Stephanie Williams has lived in East New York for 12 years. Until the pandemic, she felt relatively safe. But then, as crime and uncertainty in the city rose, she started having nightmares about someone breaking into her home. Like many other Black women who have sought out a new way to protect themselves during the past few years, she decided to buy a firearm. 

In an effort to learn how to handle her weapon, and to find a community, Williams joined the Downstate New York Diasporans Firearm Club, a chapter of the National African American Gun Association that has members on Long Island and in the city’s five boroughs. DFC is one of several Black firearms clubs, ranges, and instructors profiled in Brooklyn-based BRIC TV‘s latest documentary, “Not Just My Gun Is Black: 2A Life in America.” 

Many of the members are new gun owners who bought their guns in the summer of 2020 amid rising gun violence in New York and across the country. While legally buying, owning, and carrying a gun in New York City is exceptionally difficult, a growing number of Black New Yorkers are doing so. They’re taking up arms, legally, both to protect themselves and to exercise a right that has not been equally assured for people of color

“The Second Amendment wasn’t originally intended for people like me,” said Donavan Lambert, the co-founder and president of the S.O.U.L. Society Firearms Club. “It wasn’t written for us. The essence of it was to protect those who were writing the laws. They weren’t particularly people of my complexion.”

This is the third installment of The Damage Done, a series of documentaries exploring the nuances of gun violence produced by BRIC TV in partnership with The Trace. They show how individuals and their communities are coping with loss and disruption, and also how they’re catalyzing efforts to make their city safer.

You can watch it here: