A historic newspaper in Los Angeles caved last week to unnamed “educational and political partners” when editors decided to halt the publication of a pro-gun article highlighting a local gun shop and training service.
Jonathan and Geneva Solomon were surprised and excited when the Los Angeles Sentinel reached out to them to write a profile on their firearm training business, Redstone Firearms. The LA Sentinel is an African-American owned newspaper founded in 1933, and the Solomons cater primarily to the African-American community at two locations in the greater L.A. area.
It seemed like a good fit, and the journalist at the Sentinel wrote a largely positive piece emphasizing the Solomon’s commitment to safe and responsible firearms handling and ownership.
The day before the piece was set to be published, however, the Solomons were contacted by newspaper representatives who told them the piece was being pulled from the website due to political pressure. The representative specifically mentioned a gun control group called Mothers in Action, and Jonathan believes the pressure on the newspaper originated at even higher levels of power.
“A group in Los Angeles called Mothers in Action got with Maxine Waters and Cory Booker to pressure the Sentinel until the newspaper said, ‘We’ll scrap it,’” Jonathan told GunsAmerica. “We’ve been featured in other media outlets and have never had a problem. But when it comes to an all-black newspaper with an all-black self-defense company, they decided it was too much political pressure on them and they pulled it.”
Geneva was able to screen capture most of the article before it was taken down for good, which we’ve published below.
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Jonathan admitted that the Sentinel representative didn’t name Sen. Booker or Rep. Waters specifically, but he does recall the newspaper mentioning “other political entities” along with Mothers in Action.
Neither the LA Sentinel nor Mothers in Action responded to multiple requests for comment on this story.
The Sentinel published a piece praising Sen. Booker’s anti-gun advocacy only a week before the Redstone Firearms piece was set to post. The paper is also headquartered just north of Rep. Water’s district, so it’s likely that many of its executive and editorial staff lives in the current and former districts of Congress’ most senior black member.
The Solomons felt that they had missed an opportunity to promote their family-owned business and been labeled as dangerous just because they operate a gun-related organization.
“I was highly irritated and pissed off. We’ve never promoted anything negative. It’s always been responsible gun ownership, consulting, educating and training. That’s it. I felt they were labeling us as some type of terrorist organization,” Jonathan told GunsAmerica.
“It’s like they said, ‘We can’t run an article on them because it doesn’t paint the picture that all these other folks are painting. Guns are bad! Guns are bad! You shouldn’t talk about them.’”
The LA Sentinel also owns and operates a large, all-black festival in Los Angeles called the Taste of Soul. The Sentinel first heard about Redstone Firearms when the Solomons applied to be a vendor at the festival, and the festival organizers initially agreed to allow Jonathan and Geneva to sell merchandise and promote their self-defense training services. The organizers were even prepared to make Redstone Firearms a “featured vendor,” which is why they wanted to publish the original story.
When the newspaper decided to pull the piece, the Solomons had hoped they would still be allowed to pay for a booth at the festival. But the festival organizers soon reversed course.
“My boss notified me that they do not feel comfortable having your booth at the festival,” a Project Coordinator at Taste of Soul named Lauren Brazile told the Solomons via email. “They are concerned about backlash from our political and educational partners, as gun ownership is an extremely sensitive topic.”
Brazile promised to refund the Solomons $1,400 registration fee and apologized for “all of the confusion.”
Jonathan was disappointed that his business had been marginalized by a newspaper he remembered seeing while growing up in the LA area. He told GunsAmerica his grandmothers would read the LA Sentinel every week, and he remembers riding his bike past their offices when he was a boy.
But Jonathan and Geneva haven’t been silent. They called their clients—who they call their “family”—together, and they’ve sent dozens of emails and made dozens of calls to the Sentinel’s office in the last few days. The newspaper hasn’t responded, but Jonathan said he will continue to speak out.
“I can’t make them run the article but I sure as hell can say something about it.”