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 Assn. 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% of whites polled this year said they owned guns, compared with 15% of blacks and 11% of Latinos.
YouTube: Colion Noir
You know you’re a gun control hypocrite if …
“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.”
Arulanandam noted that the NRA also recently signed on a woman and a young veteran as commentators who speak to other growing demographics within the ranks of gun owners. He said the NRA did not choose Noir because of his race.
“When he speaks, he’s able to relate to a variety of people. That’s why he has a broad following,” Arulanandam said.
Noir was born Collins — “Mr. Colion Noir” is a stage name — son of an executive chef and a registered nurse. He graduated from high school in Houston, went to the University of Houston, where he majored in political science, and earned a law degree from Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
Noir is a practicing attorney. He reads fashion blogs, loves gadgets and drives a sports car and a truck — neither with a gun rack, although he keeps a metal candy dish full of bullets in his living room.
Noir said he grew up hesitant to admit he liked firearms because it wasn’t something people talked about in his middle-class neighborhood. He fired his first gun, a little Taurus .40, about seven years ago at the urging of a friend who took him to a shooting range.
“I remember how exhilarating it was,” Noir said, comparing the experience to sky diving.
Soon afterward, he was going to the range weekly and researching guns. He later joined the NRA and bought about a half dozen guns. Noir, who once worked at A/X Armani Exchange and favors tailored suits, worries that a concealed handgun might “print,” or show through the fabric.
“Secret Service have the worst cut suits — big and bulky,” so their guns won’t show, Noir said.
A few years ago he began posting YouTube videos of himself critiquing guns and accessories. Then he started tackling politics and pop culture, addressing mass shootings, assault weapon bans and gun control campaigns by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the rapper formerly known as Snoop Dogg.