The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 24, 2013

NRA's black commentator becomes a sensation

HOUSTON — Colion Noir belongs to the NRA and owns several guns, including a sleek Glock 17 handgun and a customized AR-15 rifle. But as Noir frequently points out, he does not fit the stereotype of NRA members, or what he calls OFWG: “Old, fat white guys.”

At 29, he’s not old. Nor is he fat — he’s slender and stylishly dressed with sneakers made by Prada. He’s also not white.

In the world of gun owners, Noir, an African-American, has become an Internet sensation and his popularity is growing. At this year’s National Rifle Association convention here, he was surrounded by fans when he arrived to film a Sportsman Channel segment on the NRA News stage.

“You are certainly causing some controversies,” said Cam Edwards, host of the radio talk show “NRA News Cam & Co.”

Noir has attracted followers with funny, edgy pro-gun videos — titles include “Gun Control & Bathrooms” and “You Know You’re a Gun Control Hypocrite if … ” He has emerged as a dynamic and unexpected NRA persona.

Gun control advocates dismiss him as an NRA pawn, and some blacks accuse him of being an Uncle Tom. But to many at the convention, Noir demonstrated a historic diversity among gun owners that defies stereotypes.

After Noir left the talk-show stage, fans approached to shake hands and pose for photographs. Most were white. A handful of them, like Quentin Smith, were black.

“Congratulations,” said Smith, 44, a gun owner from Cypress, Texas. “There’s a few of us out there.”

The NRA does not release membership demographics, but according to a Pew Research Center survey, many gun owners in America are white — 31 percent of whites polled this year said they owned guns, compared with 15 percent of blacks and 11 percent of Latinos.

“This is one tie that binds all of us together,” said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam, describing the group as “the oldest civil rights organization in America.”

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