‘I Can’t Afford To Wait’: Oakland, California Residents Join Gun Club In Droves For Self-Defense As Crime Rises

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo)

John Oyewale Contributor
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Residents of Oakland, California have been joining a gun club since the start of the pandemic amid reports of rising crime and delayed police response, NBC Bay Area reported Monday.

Most of the Bay Area Gun Club’s members from Oakland are women, the club told the outlet. The club has reportedly seen its membership swell since 2020 with members with ages ranging from 20 to over 80 years old.

“The people in Oakland are tired of being victims and rightfully so. Who wants to leave home and not come back or have some type of say-so over their own mortality,” Channon Smith, president of the Bay Area Gun Club, told the outlet.

Former law enforcement and gun safety experts train the club’s members on defensive gun use and knowledge of the law, according to the outlet.

Keisha Henderson — an Oakland resident and a former Oakland Public Safety Task Force member — told the outlet she joined the gun club and became a licensed gun owner last year due to safety concerns and alleged ineffectual responses from the city authorities to alleged criminality.

Recounting an alleged attempted pre-dawn break-in at her home in April and what she alleged was a delayed response from the Oakland Police Department (OPD), Henderson told the outlet, “At this point it’s like you do want to take matters into your own hands. I have to protect myself.”

Henderson provided the outlet with a surveillance video recording of what appeared to be an attempted break-in showing a suspect smashing a window, then slinking away as a family member could be heard screaming from within the house, according to the outlet’s video report. It took the OPD hours to respond, Henderson told the outlet.

Henderson alleged that three teenagers attempted to steal her car Sunday in a tweet the outlet reported on. “I was handling business on MY property, and these teenagers (3 of them) decided to walk on my property and try to get into one of my cars,” she alleged.

“When it comes down to the protection of my home, I’m not about to think twice about standing on business. I am not talking about waiting on OPD to handle it either. I’m not playing any games at all,” she tweeted. (RELATED: Fast Food Chain Shuts Down Indoor Dining In Major City Amid Surging Crime)

Henderson recounted an alleged break-in at a neighbor’s residence a few weeks ago she said was caught on video. “[T]homeowner looked at the footage and decided to take action on their own. She found the teenagers and pulled up on them. The rest is history,” Henderson alleged in the tweet.

Henderson also alleged that there was “no accountability” from the city’s authorities and called on the community to respond to crime “by all means necessary.”

“I don’t want nobody whining and complaining about how citizens in Oakland protect their property. People are tired of being victims of crime,” she added in the tweet.

“I’m not telling people to go out and start spraying, that’s not what I’m telling people to do but we also have to be realistic about what we are up against,” Henderson told NBC Bay Area, clarifying her tweet.

“My protection comes first and so does my kids’,” Henderson told the outlet. “I can’t afford to wait on OPD to arrive and I can’t afford to be on 911 call line for 10-15, 20-30 minutes when you have two to three individuals possibly with guns in their hands.”

The violent crime index — a list of homicide, aggravated assault, rape and robbery reports — for Oakland rose by 21% from 6,201 incidents in 2022 to 7,526 incidents in 2023, according to the city’s crime statistics database. Nearly every crime category recorded witnessed an increase, with a 17% increase in crime totals from 39,994 in 2022 to 46,986 in 2023.

“Crime totals reflect one offense (the most severe) per incident,” the database reads. “Because crime reporting and data entry can run behind, all crimes may not be recorded.”