…Sunday afternoon, I talked with several members of black gun clubs in Maryland who represent a different side of the story. The people I interviewed love their guns and recalled growing up in black farming communities where every family had guns for hunting — and protection. They spoke of a love for guns that spanned generations in their families.
Inside the wood-paneled Prince George’s Trap and Skeet Center, a Maryland National Park and Planning facility tucked away off Good Luck Road in Greenbelt, logs crackled in the fireplace and the aroma of chili filled the air as men arrived to sign up for one of the final sessions in the Southern Maryland Winter League. Outside, members of the Metro Gun Club, a predominantly black gun club formed more than 50 years ago for African Americans banned from white gun clubs, took their places at the range to test their skeet skills. A rhythmic “pop pop pop” and the smell of gunpowder rose in the frigid air as the men shot at orange discs tossed in the whipping winds.
Glynnis “Larry” Byrd, president of the Metro Gun Club, has been around guns all his life. He remembers first holding a gun when he was about 6. “My father was a hunter, and a lot of our food came from hunting,” he said, recalling his days growing up on a farm in North Carolina.
When he moved to Baltimore as a young man, it was taboo to even talk about guns, Byrd said. In the more southern, more rural Waldorf, where about 16 Metro Gun Club members — mostly African American men, a few whites and one black woman — meet for camaraderie and shooting games, Byrd is free to indulge in his favorite sport.
“In Baltimore, talking about guns was like lighting a stick of dynamite. Here, in the club, we’re a bunch of guys who play with guns everyday,” Byrd said. “Nobody gets hurt because we practice gun safety.”
Byrd thinks the politicians working to increase gun controls are going about it all wrong: “I think there should be stricter laws to punish the…