Self-defense is a right. As tool users, mankind needs tools such as firearms to make that right possible. Those that would take away our rights for some collective purpose always start with small, marginalized groups. In the United States, the groups have been blacks, Native Americans and Irish immigrants to name just a few. Many of the gun control laws have racist roots.
That is just one of the many points made by my friend Kenn Blanchard in his 1994 book Black Man with a Gun. Since then, Blanchard released a second book in 2013 called Black Man with a Gun Reloaded. In this review, I take a look at both books and let you know why I think these should be required reading for all men and women of liberty.
Black Man…With a Gun?
As I alluded to above, Black Man with Gun is a book on gun rights, the racist roots of gun control and the use of firearms to promote liberty. He talks history and about the responsibility that all gun owners today have in the maintenance of our remaining rights to keep and bear arms. Additionally, the book spends a significant amount of ink on the practical aspects of gun ownership for self-defense.
The book is labeled “A Responsible Gun Ownership Manual for African Americans.” Does it live up to this label? Yes, it most certainly does. While I cannot speak to the African-American experience with any authority, I continuously study history. Blanchard’s recounting of the black experience tracks well with the larger history of the United States. For me, Blanchard’s book helps me understand a different perspective on firearms.
Black Man with a Gun is a “must read” for anyone who wants to better understand the history of gun control in the United States. If you think gun control is about reducing crime, read this book and learn how it has always been about controlling people.
From preventing freed slaves to defend themselves to oppressing Irish immigrants to the tragedy of the Native American experience, gun control is always about controlling people the government does not like. If you think it is any different today, you are fooling yourself.
Of course, the responsibilities that come with being a firearm owner are universal. These responsibilities include gun safety and teaching your children about firearms. Blanchard does an exceptional job in highlighting the importance of these responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with the rights of self defense and ownership of arms. After all, if gun owners do not act in a responsible manner, we are more apt to lose our right to self-defense.
Blanchard also addresses the straightforward, practical issues surrounding firearms used for self-defense. This includes selection of a gun, shooting techniques and easy to understand explanations of firearm types and ammunition.
So, who is Kenn Blanchard? A bit of a modern Renaissance man, it would seem. He’s studied a lot, done a lot and charged into new areas, making the way easier for the rest of us.
Blanchard has been an unwavering defender of people: as a Marine, police officer and as a civil rights activist. He’s been a CIA firearms trainer, a national security analyst and a witness testifying on firearms before the legislatures of six states. Oh, he’s also an ordained Baptist minister.
He tells a great story and his life has plenty of them. Blanchard is well known in the gun community for having one of the original firearms podcasts – one he still publishes today. It’s called… Black Man with a Gun. Make sure you check out Kenn’s free podcast. It is a great blend of gun rights news, interviews and entertainment.
Fundamentally, Blanchard is a good man. I find him to be inspiring and an example that with a little hard work, faith and wisdom the American dream is still within reach.
I don’t see Black Man with a Gun Reloaded as a replacement to the original, but a continuation of the story. I liked the first book, but this one really had me hooked.
Blanchard drew me in with the first chapter where he describes his grandmother and he shotgun. That plain scattergun saved his life from a water moccasin, protected family members from a drunk step-father, strangers that wandered across her land and was used to celebrate the New Year.
From there, he moved into other topics such as his relationship with his son, being the “pistol packing preacher,” black hunters, police protection, the National Rifle Association and more history involving African-Americans with firearms. One of the best parts, for me, was learning more about history – parts left out of the school text books.
Consider the case of Dr. Ossian Sweet and the Sweet Trials that I first learned about thanks to Blanchard’s book. This one case tests several myths about self-defense and racism: that a small group cannot defend themselves against a much larger group, that a “good shoot” always ends well for the victim and that bigotry is limited to the southern United States.
In this 1925 incident, a white mob attacked Sweet’s family after they moved into “their” Detroit neighborhood. Police failed to protect the Sweet family and residence. In the chaos, two white men were shot – one fatally. All of the family was arrested, but eventually either acquitted or had charges dropped. Even though no one of Sweet’s family was convicted, Sweet still lost his wife and young daughter to tuberculosis contracted while in jail prior to the charges being dropped. Eventually, Sweet would commit suicide.
This is a sad story, but one that is important in US history. Blanchard’s book put me on that story – not any history professor or history book.
In many ways, I enjoyed the Reloaded book more than the original. That’s not said to besmirch the first effort, but to explain that the second is even better.
I enjoyed reading both of these books. Blanchard and I come from backgrounds that are similar enough that I can relate to, yet are completely different in many ways. These books helped to give me insight into different ways of thinking and how gun rights are perceived by different cultures.
For anyone who is concerned about expanding the gun community, these books should be required reading. In fact, I wish both were read by every NRA board member and employee. While there are a lot of good things the NRA does, outreach to underrepresented groups is not one of them. If they took the time to understand the historical nature of gun rights as it applies to the black community, maybe they could better represent themselves to our allies there.
As with all of my reviews, I want you to know about the potential biases and influences that may affect my reporting. This one is a bit different as Blanchard is someone I consider a friend. I admit that I am biased in this sense. One of the reasons I like Kenn is because of the wisdom behind many of the points he makes in these books. Frankly, he’s one of my favorite people to sit and have dinner with at the SHOT Show.
At the time of this writing, he is not an advertiser on this site, nor are we talking about him becoming one. In fact, I don’t accept any kind of advertising or “sponsored reviews” on this site.
He did not ask me to review these books, and he has not asked me to change a single work of this review. I purchased both of these books with my own money. Here is a screen shot of my Amazon receipts for both the original and follow up books:
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If you have any questions or thoughts about my Black Man with a Gun review, feel free to post them in the comments section below. I merely ask that we keep things civil and without profanity. I’d like to keep things civil if we could. If you are interested in some of my other articles, you may want to check out my gun reviews or look at my other gun book reviews.