By Eugene Kane Senior Writer and Columnist Published Mar 07, 2013 at 1:09 PM

The buzz around some parts of black Milwaukee is about a new campaign by the NRA to woo African-American supporters to their cause.

The campaign features radio and TV ads with African-American faces and voices making the case that black people need guns today more than ever.

In some cases, even the Ku Klux Klan gets mentioned. (Curiously, the NRA folks don't say a peep about the Black Panthers, a militant group from the 1960s. Maybe that one was too scary.)

The NRA ad has run online and on TV in various markets. One prominent video playing online and elsewhere features a young conservative African-American named Colion Noir wearing a baseball cap who makes the case for black gun-ownership in dramatic fashion.

"No one wants to fight for protection, they want the government to do it," Noir  says into the camera with an angry voice. "The same government who at one point hosed us down with water, attacked us with dogs and wouldn't allow us to eat at their restaurants and told us we couldn't own guns when bumbling fools with sheets on their heads were riding around burning crosses on our lawns and murdering us."

According to an NAACP spokesperson Hilary Shelton, the ad was an awkward and scary attempt to woo African-Americans living in communities already negatively impacted by gun violence to join the carnage.

"They are convoluting the history to support the mischief  to have more guns on the street," Shelton told US News and World Report. "The loss of African-American lives is not (the Klan) pulling the trigger ... it's about destitution and easy access to guns."

With so much tragedy from gun violence in cities like Chicago – and Milwaukee – the NRA's attempt to evoke the tragic violence perpetuated on black citizens during the civil rights movement strikes some as manipulative and cynical.

Black Americans do own guns to the same degree as many whites but the NRA and others are using the memory of some of the most horrific events in civil rights history to send a scary message that those times might return and black residents need to be armed.

Star Parker, a black conservative who heads the Center for Urban Renewal and Education,  just produced an NRA type ad against gun control that brought up the lynch mobs of the past where blacks were often burned after they were hung.  Just for effect, she used the image of a black man hanging from a tree with the title: "Never Again."

Another NRA taking head actually has suggested that if blacks had been armed they would have never underwent the oppression of slavery in the United States.

Of course, that conveniently ignores the reality that black slaves taken from Africa by force were never allowed to have guns once they landed in America.

They were slaves, after all.

All of this talk about African-Americans and guns recalls the current debate over gun control in Milwaukee, as the police chief and mayor battle with Sheriff David A. Clarke over his suggestions that city residents should arm themselves to fight crime.

Clarke, an African-American, didn't use any racial references in his pro-gun ads and statements. That's good because nobody would have believed our right-wing sheriff suddenly decided to become the spokesman for black people in the inner city. Frankly, that's never been his thing.

Still, it's a surprise to some that although Clarke has received wide denunciation from many circles, many African-Americans in town support the controversial sheriff on this one.

Black gun ownership does exist; the problem is that the NRA argument to African-Americans for more guns plays into a fear factor based on the argument blacks should be wary of a return to the days of Jim Crow when blacks were denied basic rights.

These days, the NRA seems to think the saddest days of black history are suitable for a new marketing campaign.

One of my African-American friends who owns a legal gun carry permit told  he feels safer making stops in the central city because of his weapon. I asked him where he kept it.

"I always keep it securely locked in a case in my car," he answered. "Not much help in case of a sudden car-jacking attempt, huh?" I responded.

Or, despite whatever the NRA says, it probably won't be much help if the KKK suddenly shows up on your door, either.

Eugene Kane Senior Writer and Columnist

Eugene Kane is veteran Milwaukee journalist and nationally award winning columnist.

Kane writes about a variety of important issues in Milwaukee and society that impact residents of all backgrounds.