'See my face'

Florida woman is a driving force behind African-American gun clubs

Miami's Black Arms Gun Club vice president Samantha Sorillo. (YouTube / BBC)

According to a recent study published by the Pew Research Center, gun ownership among African Americans is on the rise. As many as 59 percent of African-American households in the U.S. view owning a gun as a necessity. Within that broader statistic, gun ownership among black women is also increasing at a greater rate than among any other demographic in the U.S.

Samantha Sorillo is the personification of this trend. Sorillo, a physical therapist and single mother, according to her Twitter profile, from Fort Lauderdale, is the vice president of Miami’s Black Arms Gun Club, one of the newest such clubs for African Americans.

She owns four firearms — 3 handguns and an AR-15 assault rifle. The BBC recently caught up with Sorrillo at a gun range in Florida and talked to her about what the motivation behind the uptick in gun ownership among African Americans, and particularly women, is. Sorillo also showed off some of her skills with the AR-15 on camera.

“The media portrays African Americans, a lot of times, in a negative way,” Sorillo, who originally hails from New York City, told the BBC. “So it’s important that they see my face and others, to show that we’re training and responsible gun owners.”

Sorillo said the gun club is focused on being a place for African-Americans to fraternize over guns, but added that the club welcomes people from any background as long as they support the group’s goals and agenda.

As for her personal reasons for owning firearms, Sorillo suggests in comes down to an increased sense of safety.

“That’s why I’m here at the gun range — to make sure that if I defend myself, I will hit my target.” She added, “Being an African American woman, there are also issues that I identify with — that other demographics cannot identify with.”

Watch the full interview with Sorillo below.

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