Minnesota’s Somali Minorities are Arming Themselves

There's a lot of armed Muslims in Minnesota now.

Somali police office in St Paul talks with other Somali

Minnesota is a popular place for Muslim immigrants, particularly from Somalia. There is already a large population of Somali there and in fact, the St. Paul police department has a Somali woman on its force who wears a hijab (a traditional head covering) while on duty.

News reports out of Minneapolis are talking about these minorities now arming themselves. They have been telling news outlets that the reason they are applying for gun permits is because of an uptick in hate crimes since Donald Trump has been elected. Fears that his rival, Hillary Clinton, would restrict access to guns also had a similar affect on getting minorities to exercise their rights. At one point during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, he said that Somali immigrants in Minnesota are a “disaster” for the state. Minneapolis has the largest community of Somali-Americans in the United States. He spoke about the dangers of Somali refugees spreading the extremist views of ISIS on American soil. That language frightened some Somali, who fear an uptick of hate crimes because of it, as well as a tightening of their general rights as Trump’s presidency goes on.

As of December 7, 2016, the state has issued 70,112 permits, a 57 percent increase over the 44,696 issued last year, according to a report from the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The permits are valid for five years, so the total includes both newly issued and renewing permits. A 2014 study by the Pew Research Center Survey showed that more blacks approve of gun ownership. 54 percent said that guns protect people rather than endanger lives. Only 29 percent of blacks gave that answer the last time the survey was administered in 2012. There is no data on the number of Muslim-Americans buying guns, and permit application records don’t reveal demographic information beyond the age, gender and the county of the applicant. There is even a gun club for Somali Americans that was recently started for St. Cloud, Minnesota, Somali.

Anecdotal evidence from people who offer gun lessons and sales show that more Somali men are coming in for lessons and to buy guns. Many Somali feel that President Trump will restrict the rights of Muslims to obtain guns as time goes on.

Image from latimes.com Caption: Kadra Mohamed hands out police badge stickers at a community event attended by Somali families. Mohamed is a community liaison officer in St. Paul, Minn., the first Somali woman on the city’s police force. (John M. Glionna / Los Angeles Times)