The National Rifle Association shined the spotlight on an event one of its members put on in Detroit, Michigan.
The NRA released an ad on Thursday featuring Rick Ector, one of the group’s certified instructors, talking about why he organized a free training for more than 4,000 Black women at the end of August. Ector explains what led him to gun ownership and why he is motivated to train others in armed self-defense.
“I was raised my entire life brainwashed that guns were bad and only bad people would need a gun. Until one night when I was robbed at gunpoint in my own driveway,” he said in the ad. “I was staring down the barrel of a gun with my family in the house behind me. The only reason they didn’t ransack my house was because I told a whopping lie that my house was filled with guns and trained users. They fled. On that day, I made a promise to myself that I would never look down the barrel or be defenseless ever again, and I would use my experience to help others.”
He argued gun ownership, rather than gun control, is the solution to violence in the city.
“If simply having guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens was the answer, Detroit would be the safest place on earth,” Ector said. “Instead, it’s seen a 53% increase in shootings in 2020 alone.”
Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the NRA, praised Ector for his commitment to the event and
“Rick is the embodiment of the NRA’s spirit of volunteerism that prevails among our millions of members,” LaPierre said in a statement. “For years, he has led a crucial and substantive effort to help make Detroit a safer place. We are proud to have Rick as an NRA member, instructor, and member of our Outreach Committee.”
The NRA has faced criticism in recent years for its handling of racially charged police shootings such as the killing of concealed-carry permit holder Philado Castile in 2016. Alternative groups for Black gun owners, including the National African American Gun Association, have flourished as Black Americans buy guns at higher rates. But the ad shows the NRA continues to enjoy significant support among Black gun owners and is attempting to appeal to more of them.
The ad promotes an inclusive vision for the NRA’s gun-rights activism. Willes Lee, Chairman of the NRA board’s Outreach Committee, attended the training event and argued the group’s focus is on bringing in gun owners of all backgrounds.
“Our focus is to push our message out across America to all law-abiding citizens that firearms education and safety are important no matter where you are or who you are,”
The ad featured half a dozen different Black women who identified themselves as NRA daughters, sisters, and grandmothers. It featured Khyiana, who described herself as a “proud, deaf, Black woman of the NRA,” and her appeal to all kinds of different Americans.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re white, Asian-American, Latino, Latinx. It’s your right if you’re deaf or hard of hearing. It’s your right to carry a gun,” she said through sign language. “It’s your Second Amendment right. Protect yourselves.”
The ad struck a less inclusive tone when it comes to “the left,” though. It opens with Ector saying “the left thinks the Second Amendment wasn’t made for people who look like us,” a point of view he says was echoed during the “Jim Crow era too.”
Ultimately, he finished with a message aimed at the utility of armed self-defense in a city like Detroit.
“The average police response time in Detroit is 15 minutes,” Ector said. “The average draw time of a well-trained, concealed carry holder is less than 2 seconds. I’m no mathematician, but I know which one I’m betting my life on. Since the beginning, the NRA has never turned their back on people who look like me.”
The NRA said the ad is part of a social media campaign. It has posted the ad on its Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages where it has amassed an audience of about 8 million followers. It will also be featured on partner accounts which the NRA said would bring its total reach up to 12 million followers.