The best thing about putzing about the gun and shooting industry, and I do mean putzing, is the variety of interesting people I get to meet. One of those is the Reverend Kenn Blanchard, known online and in Homeland Security response strategy meetings as Black Man With A Gun.
I met Kenn for the first time almost a year ago at The Battle of A Top Secret Location Near Knoxville, TN – otherwise known as the LuckyGunner.com 2011 Blogger Shoot and automatic weapons happy fun festival. Right away, I knew Kenn was a man on a mission. My first words to him were something along the lines of “Why are you here in the tent working instead of shooting machine guns and cannons? Are you some kind of fairy?” After dusting myself off and putting a cold steak on my newly minted black eye, I found Kenn to be a pretty nice guy. With a killer right hook. No wonder Homeland Security has been harassing him for years.
I’m pleased to share some, ah, unusual insight with Kenn Blanchard: Marine, Pastor, Gun Rights Activist, Historian, Shooter and generally swell dude. Enjoy…
My Gun Culture: By my count, you were on the terrorist watch list before there was one. If you started advocating for personal protection rights in 1991, you even pre-date The Department of Homeland Security! Are you really that old?
Kenn Blanchard: Dern, you made me think on that one. But you’re right. I was into terrorism before it was a household word. Before 9/11, I traveled to a lot of not so nice places in the world to protect or return American families from harm in foreign places. I broke rules, did cool stuff and never lost anyone on my watch. I never escaped US Customs though. I fit every profile of a narco trafficker they had so I’ve been searched more in the US (thankfully) than abroad. And all before biometrics and detection devices that smell residue. I’ve had a lot of dogs get familiar with my private parts searching for stuff I didn’t have, but its all good.
MGC: As a dog person, I know for a fact that dogs just like to invade your, umm, private areas, just to make you blush! So given your experience with customs and good old-fashioned grope searches, how do you feel about the TSA’s new porn scanners?
Kenn: I practically wear pajamas now when I fly. The TSA reminded me of the time when I was a exotic dancer. I have to keep myself from going into a routine when I get in the booth or it feels like someone is trying to put money on me, but I digress.
MGC: I notice from your bio that you lobbied in the great state of South Carolina for gun rights. Being that I live there now I would love to hear that story – especially since I am now benefitting from your work here…
Kenn: Yes sir, when I decided to grow old, I changed jobs and tried my hand at political persuasion. I worked with the National Rifle Association in South Carolina to talk politics, freedom and religion to a nice guy in SC legislature that was also a pastor but had the wrong information of self defense, the right to carry and his history. I preached in his office, converted his staff and then made him listen to me on one of the best elevator pitches I have ever managed in Columbia. By the time I testified, he was giving us an AMEN for the RKBA. I was just starting to realize my calling into the gospel ministry but you gotta use what you got to get what you need.
MGC: Well thank you very much for getting the great state of South Carolina in order before I moved here! You saved me a lot of trouble! So let’s talk about your move into the ministry. Maybe I should describe that as your move into “official” ministry as it sounds like you might have been doing the amateur version for a while. Have you ever shared the gospel at the shooting range? If so, does the gospel work better with 9mm or .45ACP?
Kenn: I have actually preached in the store part of a range, and folks wondered how a preacher got in. They wanted to see my ID to prove I was clergy. It wasn’t planned but happened. The Good News was someone actually gave his life to Christ afterwards. I know I am a bit different. I didn’t start out a choir boy.
MGC: You put a lot of energy and passion into educating people about the real roots of gun control – racism. It’s pretty ironic that many of those promoting gun control measures today shout their status as non-racists from the rooftops. Am I taking crazy pills? This seems astoundingly hypocritical. Your thoughts?
Kenn: I can’t call it. All I wanted to do when I started was help people. I never intended on being a modern day abolitionist, trying to abolish the residue of slavery but it happens. Most folks don’t even realize what they say and think is not original but just adopted till they are called out for it. Some are hypocritical but most just never gave it much thought and talk without thinking. And of course some people are just the backside of a northbound mule.
MGC: Tell us about your first gun…
Kenn: My first gun was a Daisy BB gun, but first firearm was a .357 single action Ruger revolver with a eight inch barrel I got from another Marine.
MGC: We ask all of our interview victims, umm I mean guests, to weigh in on our ongoing debate of whether the MK19 Automatic Grenade Launcher is appropriate for home defense. What say you?
Kenn: I wouldn’t be a fan of a grenade launcher for my home. The clean up would be expensive.
MGC: Thanks for your time today Kenn. One more question for you. I can’t help but notice that there aren’t a whole lot of black men with guns walking around the big shooting events like SHOT Show, etc. I want to see a whole lot more people in general get involved in shooting. How do we fix that?
Kenn: I hear you brother. We have to be patient. It took over four hundred years, a lot of fear and misinformation to get things they way they are. It won’t take that long to fix but it won’t be when we want it. You will see a few more every year, and every event, I promise. You and I will just be gainfully employed making it happen for awhile that is all. Shalom Baby!
I’d like to thank Kenn for his patience and good humor! Be sure to check out Kenn’s podcast here.
Stay tuned – next on the My Gun Culture interview hot seat are in depth discussions with Huntress and Professional Outfitter Mia Anstine, Bart and Lisa Looper from Looper Brand Holsters, makers of belts, holsters, law enforcement gear and the world famous FlashBang holster.