I started out with nothing and I still have most of it left. Last night, I put together a video and a podcast episode sharing my desire to exit from the Second Amendment advocacy space. I called it my Farewell Message. The concept of leaving on a high note had been on my mind and I had been talking about it for weeks. Last week my 12 year old iMac hard drive died. Then it fell off my table (no damage). I took it as a sign.
Being the Black Man With A Gun indefinitely was not my plan. All I wanted was financial success. My level of success was independence and self-employment. It never came. Most of it was because I refused to do anything that seemed criminal or unethical. I am not politically motivated. I am not ambiguous. I like people that some don’t and don’t like people that many like.
The good news is that I am still going to be around. The bad news is that you won’t see or hear me talk about firearms or gun legislation after December 2019. I am tired and want to change my evergreen focus to a seasonal one. In this season of my life, I am looking forward to passing on information, encouragement and enjoying myself more than fighting, defending and debating crazy people. I’ve been doing it since 1987.
I have a website called kennblanchard.com that I plan to update and contribute to with all my shenanigans. I hope you decide to follow it. Currently I produce WarriorCast.com ‘s podcast, Speaklifepodcast.com and the Kenn Blanchard Show podcast. Warriorcast belongs to my son and covers his world of martial arts, boxing and pop culture. Speak Life is the weekly show from the Gospel ministry I serve, and the Kenn Blanchard Show is my cornucopia of thoughts.
With my podcasting computer down, I created this video.
Here are my thoughts, spoken from it.
This is my farewell message to friends, family and coworkers in the 2A movement. In my twenty plus year of being in this space, I have never seen anyone actually retire. They usually die, get a mention in the NRA Rifleman, and Ammoland and that’s it. Or they screw up in a media interview and get crucified by trolls and the community members that like that sort of thing. I’m trying to go out on my own terms.
The world has changed since I started. A lot. Some good stuff has happened. And some bad. I used to call myself the Bill Cosby of the Gun Rights Movement. That isn’t a good analogy now. And there were a couple of other guys that I grew up looking up to that have since gone down in flames.
Like my wife repeatedly say, don’t compare yourself to anyone, just be you.
I started with nothing. I still have most of that left.
I started in 1986 wanted to be a firearms instructor for my community. I wanted to become a high paid speaker or radio personality. I wanted to leverage my creativity and entrepreneurism to become a successful business person. I became the Black Man with a Gun (BMWAG)
The local DC Maryland and Virginia community wasn’t ready for an under 30 year old African American firearms trainer. The government allowed me to moonlight and do this side activity but with a strict warning not to disclose my bona fides. I was watched. I was monitored. I had to ask permission before I traveled. When I appeared before the public they thought, how could I know anything? How dare I talk about guns when there was the so called black on black crime, police shootings, and drug wars going on. I got beat up a lot at ranges, gun shops and churches where I tried to advertise. But I became involved in the gun community/ gun rights when I failed to make money as a trainer/instructor in 1987. Gun rights activism doesn’t make money if you are honest.
Since then I have been involved in the gun debate, as it intersects firearms instruction and civil rights. I created the Tenth Cavalry Gun Club in 1991 that grew from Washington, DC, Baltimore, NJ and Illinois. The Law Enforcement Alliance of America, introduced me the show business of politics and I worked with to the NRA, GOA and SAF. The website Black Man with a Gun debuted in 1999. I’ve been involved in US Supreme Court cases we have won for the 2nd Amendment even if my name isn’t on it.
I learned more about myself than anything doing this stuff I had a training business, where I provided instruction and certifications in first aid, armed security and tactics. I failed in business but I pressed onward.
I started before social media and looking back I could have been a boss with that thing but I didn’t.
I reached out to all the so called black leaders and announced my intentions in the gun world. It was risky because historically, this same leaders are anti-gun. But I went there. I tried to buy a shooting range. I got blasted by Rev Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, and local pastors.
I created a podcast in 2007 and I was embraced by the people black people said I should beware of. The demographic that loved the BMWAG were the same folks that are accused of racism, cronyism, and supremacy. White males were calling me brother. They were listening to my shows. They were inviting me and my family to events across the country. I shot historical firearms in Tennessee. I ate at the homes of millionaires, in country clubs, and places in Washington DC I didn’t know black people were allowed in. I learned that our country likes being divisive. I learned that racism exist mostly because people need it as an excuse. I learned that organizations really don’t want change. I learned that people like mess, and drama. I learned that I was a conservative.
I loved meeting people like you. I loved shooting exotic and new firearms. I loved championing the cause of freedom. I loved being the Black Man with a Gun. I loved mixing faith and firearms. I loved being the pastor of patriots, pistoleros and paladins. I loved writing but podcasting was my jam. I loved and hoped that one day I would make enough money to quit my day job. That didn’t happen by the way. I learned that my faith has sustained me. I learned that my unique position has saved lives.
But it has had its bad side too. I’ve spent too much money learning, and chasing influencers. I filed bankruptcy along this journey. I’m ok now but I learned a lot by my mistakes. My wisdom came at a price. I almost lost my wife on this journey. I almost got kicked out of two churches from being pro-gun. I lost positions, promotions and opportunities at my old government job because of my pro-gun activities. It came at a cost.
1. Civil rights award from the NRA for bringing the Eddie Eagle program to Washington DC in a big way.
2. St Gabriel Possenti award from the Gun Dean, John Synder at the Second Amendment Foundation
3. Creating the tenth cavalry gun Club and getting the club to shoot at the NRA range when it was brand new
4. Meeting Charlton Heston and getting Christmas cards from him for a few years
5. Being the chaplain of the LEAA
6. Being a part of the concealed carry reforms across the US
7. Testifying in VA, TX, MI, WI and SC legislative houses
8. Interviewing the Gunny, Lee Ermey, Wayne LaPierre, befriending a rabbi like Dovid and connecting with my Jewish brethren
9. Speaking in front of 20K in Albany NY
10. Meeting Donald Trump and getting a selfie in NY
11. Publishing two three books related to the my journey and the 2nd amendment
12. Creating a website in 1999 and trademarking the name bmwag
13. Being mentioned in a movie, pros and Cons.
14. Getting a chance to audition for a pilot show on Spike TV
15. Podcasting for 12 years, 630+ episodes, sharing American history, and introducing new generations to things they may have missed.
16. Working with over 12 industry companies and getting sponsored by Crossbreed holsters and USCCA
17. Interviewing over 100 historical people for the podcast
Why am I leaving?
When I got started in 2000 as the BMWAG, it was tongue in cheek. It was my version of a shock jock. I did it with all the intentions of being replaced by many untraditional firearms instructors, activist and clubs. We have that. I personally know of Spanish speakers, LGBT, African Americans, disabled vets and boat loads of women involved now. I’ve been the go to guy media for law enforcement issues in the black community, religion and guns and veterans issues as it relates to guns. Most of the time, after a tragedy. Not good times. There have been almost a steady flow of tragedy to respond to. If you know the media game, if you sound reasonable, truthful and not bombastic your contribution will not be used. I think I might get the reward for the most media nobody but the editor as seen. I’m tired of that.
It took me awhile to learn the game of hyperbole. On a good day, I can crank it out like the best of them. But it’s not my style. Over the years I have learned that I am not the loudest, nor the most controversial voice out there. I started focusing on taking care of the second amendment first responders instead. And I still will. I care about you, your family and where you are going.
I learned you need a team to succeed. You can be one dude on a mission as I have been. You have to learn how to delegate. You have to inspire folks to work for you for nothing until you can pay them. I didn’t manage that.
Since 2007, I have been producing digital content. The Lord has allowed me to create, practice narration, speak and presenting online. I was intimately involved in the gun debate, US Constitutional issues and social causes. And with that I am well known among the gray beards. This fight is evergreen.
I believe that this season of my life is ending and that I am to move on to the next. I want to entertain. Teach and continue doing the needful on the sidelines. My best work and most of my accomplishments are not online. I have changed minds. I have saved families. I have helped veterans. I have been a brother to those in need. I have helped mothers, grandmothers and children.
So how do you retire on your own terms? I figured my first step was in letting my friends know of my intentions so it doesn’t catch them off guard. Decrease my expenses. Live modestly. Love unconditionally. Continue to help my fellowman. I am still pro-gun, pro-rights and pro-life – my life. If you want to find me, I will still be online, shooting recreationally, still be singing, playing the blues, riding my motorcycle, preaching the gospel, smiling and praising my God.
I thank those that reached out when they saw my IG or Facebook post, and checked on a brother. It wasn’t a lot of you but I noticed who you were. It means I picked the right ones to call friend.
Special thanks and much appreciation to the Crossbreed Holsters Company and family. We connected early and even after the passing of Mark, we stayed connected. Carol has been a blessing.
Tim Schmidt of USCCA has been instrumental in my success too. He was a sponsor of my podcast and 2A work long before anyone knew what social media was. He has moved on and grown his brand exponentially
Barbara Baird of Women’s Outdoor News has been like a confidant and big sister. It is only because of her that I even got invited to blogger events and SHOT show parties. If you saw or met me somewhere exclusive in the gun community it was because of a connection with her.
Shout outs to American Built Arms who sponsored my internet TV show for three months. Blanchard Outdoors.
Shout out to my Sho Nuff supporters of my Patreon account that kept me solvent. I made a pact with the wife not to spend any family money fighting for the RKBA and I’ve doing that successfully for a decade because of you. Thank you.
Like Sheriff Bart said before me,
“Work here is done. I’m needed elsewhere now. I’m needed wherever outlaws rule the West, wherever innocent women and children are afraid to walk the streets, wherever a man cannot live in simple dignity, wherever a people cry out for justice.”
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