The NAAGA Talks Law at Stoddards Gun Range

Last Saturday was the second meeting of the National African American Gun Association.

Samuel Hayes of Caliber Training Group talks law  and history at the second meeting of the NAAGA
Samuel Hayes of Caliber Training Group talks law and history at the second meeting of the NAAGA

There were about 20 people all together. It took place in room at Stoddards Gun Range in Midtown Atlanta, that looked a lot like a Starbucks, with the exception of a target set up on a tripod at the front of the room. Close to half of the attendees were women, including the founder, Philip Smith’s 15 year-old (close to 16) daughter, Tiana. More on her later.

While the first meeting focused on safety, this one featured Samuel Hayes of Caliber Training Group, who talked about gun laws in Georgia.

On discussing the differences between the NAAGA and the NRA, Sam said this. “We begin in the same place, and we occupy the same space, but that’s it. They aren’t going to acknowledge the ugly past of gun control… It was done so that we couldn’t protect ourselves.”

This is a 1919 headline from The Elaine Arkansas Gazette. Such headlines not only incited mob violence against Black people, but they also fueled efforts to disarm the Black community.

As proof he cited early headlines which ran throughout the South which spread rumors of race riots by local Black residents. Those stories were often run with almost no basis in truth, but became the inspiration for mob attacks against the Black communities, and the legislation to disarm them.

“[Before now], there was no organization out there for us.” Said one attendee. “We have a unique perspective and we need to galvanize around it.”

Sam then went on to discuss statute 16-3-21, which covers lawful use and carry of a weapon in the State of Georgia. Disparity in size, age and multiple attackers are all things that must be considered when considering lethal force.Like any other all, there is gray area.

Disparity of force, for example, will vary according to the defender. So, 15-year-old Tiana, might be justified to use deadly force against  a grown man attacking with his bare hands, while Sam, who is about 6ft, 280, might be expected to employ different tactics. Maybe.

As for defense of a third-party, which is also legal, Sam cautioned that unless they are a loved one or someone who you would trust with your life, you might be better off making yourself the best witness possible, than pulling out your gun.

“You have to be absolutely clear about who you are putting your life on the line for. It could be someone who is being arrested by undercover officers. It’s happened before. You have to know who you are dealing with.”

NAAGA founder Philip Smith with wife Gwen and daughter Tiana. They inspired me to bring my daughter soon.
NAAGA founder Philip Smith with wife Gwen and daughter Tiana. They inspired me to bring my daughter soon.

Back to Tiana, pictured here with her mother and father. She has shot a gun before. Her uncle, (I believe) allowed her to fire off some rounds at a family gathering in Oklahoma. Seeing her there inspired me to bring my daughter, who is 15 and entering the 10th grade.

  • Law is going to be a regular theme. Sam has promised to either do a longer seminar or spend some time at each meeting going over the particulars of Georgia gun laws.
  • There are currently 200 members nationwide, with 66 in Metro Atlanta and interest from people in Michigan and Chicago.
  • The goal is 1000 by next year. That seems doable to me.
  • The next meeting will be Friday June 5 at Stoddards.



Observations from the First Meeting of the National African American Gun Association

Bass Reeves was an ex slave and renegade lawman pictured here among fellow Marshals on the bottom left. Keep in mind, there are three other Black lawmen pictured.
Bass Reeves was an ex slave who lived among the Seminole and Creek Nations in Oklahoma and became a Deputy U.S. Marshall in Arkansas. He is credited with bringing close to 3,000 men to justice. Pictured here among fellow Marshals on the bottom left. Keep in mind, there are three other Black lawmen pictured. The Atlanta Branch of the NAAGA is named after him.

I spoke earlier about the National African American Gun Association. Until recently it was an unknown quantity. A good idea (an organization established with the unique needs of Black gun owners in mind) in search of the right execution.

The first meeting took place about two weeks ago, at Stoddards Gun Range in Midtown Atlanta. It is a testament to the growing popularity of firearms that they were able to build a state of the art gun shop and shooting facility within walking distance of the High Museum of Art and some to the most expensive real estate in the city. Members arrived at around 9:30 am and convened in a meeting room just off of the showroom.

It was a Saturday morning. If you were in Atlanta, you might remember the driving rain that morning. Or, maybe you were sleeping. As I found a parking space behind the facility, I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t really sure if anyone else would even show up.

There was about 15 people there. The NAAGA’s founder, Phillip Smith,  Sam Hayes of Caliber Training Group and 12 others. There was no “type”. One brother has locs longer than mine. He sat off to the side with a green ammo can and a soft sided case. The guy in front of me looked like my daughter’s favorite math teacher. There were five women. Two, I would later find, didn’t actually own guns, but were interested and wanted to find the right information.

They went over the fundamentals of firearm safety with a guy from Stoddards. There was an exercise to find your dominant eye, the five rules of safety and handling, and then we parted ways. They went to the range and I went to pick up my daughter from a sleepover.

This is what you need to know.

  • Membership is free. Just go to the site and find the tab that says, “Want to join.”
  • As of the time of the meeting, there were 50 members in Atlanta, and more than 100 nationwide, including Oakland and St. Louis.
  • Each chapter is named after  a famous African American warrior. For example, Atlanta is the Bass Reeves chapter.
  • If you’re in the Atlanta area, the next meeting will be called
  • Their next meeting is May 16, from 9am to 11am. They will be discussing Stand Your Ground in Georgia among other things. You should come and bring a friend. Guests are welcome.

If you’re interested sign up for your free membership and ask for information.




The NAAGA: National African American Gun Association

Crazy like a fox.
Crazy like a fox.

I don’t know if my problem is with the NRA or its leadership.

They are the undisputed big dogs when it comes to insuring that we continue to have the right to keep and bear arms, and they are vicious. They are so rabid about our rights to keep and bear arms that they have begun t0 push for rights that I am not entirely sure are necessary.

But the leadership… Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and newly elected President Jim Porter come off as paranoid people and they say crazy things. Witness this post with Think Progress entitled the Nine Most Insane Quotes from the NRA’s New Apocalyptic Op-ed. Reading it gave me the impression that we are about three weeks away from a living like Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead.

The NRA wants us to go through life at Defcon 9.5, hyper vigilant about the coming and inevitable collapse. Self defense is good. Paranoia isn’t.

Not to mention race. LaPierre painted a picture where there were threats around every corner ready to kidnap, rape or loot. And most of them, be they the looters of South Brooklyn, Mexican drug gangs, Al Queda or the President, were people of color. No mention of white power groups or pumpkin rioters. Go figure.

Notice, I didn’t say that they were crazy. You don’t maintain one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country by being crazy. The NRA pushes self reliance and security. Not easy, when  according to the FBI, crime is at an all time low?

What some people call nutty is probably shrewd, calculated organizing. Some lobbies boast a sensible membership. The NRA cultivates passion. Few people are driven to write letters to their congressmen in fits of sensibility. Passion = power, and the NRA is powerful.

Their formula works perfectly. I just don’t know if I’m comfortable with it.

Sam shot me a link to the National African American Gun Association. Below is their mission statement.


Makes sense to me.

This weekend I will be going to a meet and greet at a local gun range. I’ll keep you posted.

Maryland 10th Calvary Gun Club. Photo from NPR
The NAAGA is a new shooting organization for African American shooters. Pictured are the Maryland 10th Calvary Gun Club. Photo from NPR