Armed Doesn't Mean Dangerous

Christian K. Lee

2021 - Ongoing

Killeen, Texas, United States

Growing up in Chicago, I routinely saw negative portrayals of African Americans with guns: Black men there and in the rest of the country were associated with gangs and criminality, and guns were always deemed dangerous in their hands.

But at home, I saw a positive, responsible side of firearms ownership: My father was an Army veteran and a police officer. I became a gun owner myself — one of the 24 percent of African Americans who report owning guns, according to Pew Research Center. They, like me, are comfortable exercising their Second Amendment rights.

The point of this project is to recondition myself, and others, toward the more positive view of Black people and guns: to promote a more balanced archive of images of African Americans with firearms by showing responsible gun owners — those who use these weapons for sport, hobby and protection. I hope these photos bring that important point into focus.

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  • Tylissa Frazier, 38, right, is embraced by her husband Kenneth Frazier, 35, outside of their home as they hold their fireamrs on Saturday, April 3, 2021 in Temple, Tx. “We get pulled over a lot so having a license will show that we are law abiding citizens,” Tylissa said.

  • Damillah Lane, 26, is embraced by her daughtyer Skylar Lane, 8, as she holds her firearm outside of her home on Saturday, April 10, 2021 in Killeen, Tx. “Whenever my husband leaves I feel a need to protect my family,” Damillah said.

  • Lindberg Wilborn, 32, stands holding the target he used to qualify for his license to carry outside a local gun range on Saturday, March 27, 2021 in Killeen, TX. He has owned his firearm for about 3 months. “Society looks at black men as predators and scary people so most of us are scared to own a firearm in fear of fueling the fear that already exists,” Wilborn said.

  • Brittney Saunders, 28, holds her firearms outside of her home on Friday, March, 05, 2021 in Killeen, Tx. “Why can other races have assaut rifles and machine guns but if black people have a handgun we are considered a threat,” Saunders said.

  • Datrelle Black, 46, is seen surrounded by his firearms at the Texas Star Shooting Gun Range on Saturday, March 20, 2021 in Kempner, Tx. “Total avoidance of guns teaches fear we should teach our children about gun safety,” Black said.

  • Ron Harris, 32, postures his firearm in his backyard on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in Killeen, Tx. “I own it to protect my family because I cant afford a loss,” Harris said.

  • William Wilson, 64, postures his rifle near a gun range in his friends backyard on Sunday, March 21, 2021 in Copperas Cove, Tx. Wilson has over 45 years of gun experiance. He spent 21 years in the military, 22 years as a police officer and currently serves as a sales clerk at a local gun store. “The problem with big city policing is that a black man with a gun ia a threat, they’ll probably shoot me before they find out im a retired police officer,” Wilson said.

  • Asia Wragg, 35, holds her firearm outside of her home on Wednesday, March 10, 2021 in Fort Hood, Tx. “As a single woman with children my priority is to protect and defend my family,” Wragg said.

  • Jamyce Brown, 29, right, embraces her husband Keon Brown, 27, outside of their home on Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Killeen, Tx. “In my hometown introducing a child to a gun may be potentially setting them up for failure,” Chicago native Jamyce said.

  • Devin Meadows, 29, holds his firearm outside of his home on Tuesday, April 06, 2021 in Copperas Cove, Tx. “We as Africans Americans have been deprived of so many rights so why not take advantage of the ones we have,” Meadows said.

  • Marvin West, 39, holds his dog outside of his home with his firearm positioned on his hip on Monday, April 06, 2021 in Killeen, Tx. “It’s more to the picture than what you see,” West said. People often judge him based on his appearance. He mentions that those people would be surprised to know that he’s an educated business owner that holds a Masters degree.