By Bryce Huffman, BridgeDetroit 

In this country’s origin story, Black Americans were largely restricted from owning guns. Yet, in Detroit today, citizens are increasingly turning to gun ownership for a sense of protection and — sometimes — because of a constitutional right to carry.

As of July 1, Wayne County has 120,996 Concealed Pistol Licenses (CPL). That does not include the proliferation of illegal firearms or those who carry without permits. Nicole Kirkwood, a Detroit police sergeant, said the department has recovered 5,900 firearms on the streets so far in 2021 and has made more than 4,700 gun arrests this year alone.

Last year, the department partnered with the feds to address gun proliferation in the city.

Richard Faulkner, a 66-year-old Detroiter living on the city’s northwest side, said he owns a gun to protect his home and his family. He said he decided to learn more about guns after witnessing an attempted break-in at his next door neighbor’s house about five years ago.

Faulkner said he’d still own a gun even if he lived somewhere without Detroit’s crime rates.

“Now that I own a gun and I’ve done some research, I’d keep it even if I moved somewhere with no real crime because there’s just such easy access to get guns,” he said. “That doesn’t change when you move out to the country, that doesn’t change when you move to a place with less crime.”

Back in 2014, it was widely publicized that former Detroit Police Chief and current Republican gubernatorial candidate James Craig told Detroiters to arm themselves to prevent crime. He also appeared on the cover of a gun rights magazine.

Current Police Chief James White feels differently.

“I’m not trying to be political with this, but I think there’s far too many guns on the streets, and it’s too easy for folks to access these weapons,” White told BridgeDetroit.

For some Detroiters though, police alone don’t create a sense of safety. Residents have become self-reliant and are looking to arm others with gun safety lessons and information about the responsibility of ownership.

Michael Holt-Bey is a 24-year-old Highland Park resident. She attended a gun safety class last month. Here she is practicing her firing stance and listening to a firearms instructor. | Photo provided by BridgeDetroit

Detroiter Tanisha Moner said she carries a gun to feel safe.

At 17, Moner was kidnapped, robbed and sexually assaulted at gunpoint. Not long after, Moner was again robbed at gunpoint twice while managing a Burger King in Detroit.

After her experiences, she developed post-traumatic stress disorder and developed a severe fear of guns, so, in her mid-30s, she started taking gun safety classes.

Moner now teaches gun safety to metro Detroit women. The class started 10 years ago as a way to teach women how to defend themselves. This year, the class was taught at two gun ranges in Taylor. The annual class was started by Rick Ector, a National Rifle Association-certified gun instructor in Detroit. Ector didn’t become a gun enthusiast until adulthood after being robbed at gunpoint in his driveway in 2006.

To read the full story, visit BridgeDetroit