A rideshare app allowing drivers to carry guns launched in Atlanta, Georgia last week. The people behind the app say it’s meant to combat the rising levels of gun violence in the U.S. The app, Black Wolf, boasts that it hires drivers who are trained in private security to give passengers peace of mind on their next trip.
Black Wolf will now compete with Uber and Lyft to bring a different kind of journey to riders, and founder and CEO Kerry KingBrown told Atlanta News First, “We’re about security and safety at all times.” KingBrown, who is a private investigator and experienced bodyguard, told the outlet he wants riders to have “executive protection” during times of uncertainty. “Who are mostly on the news getting robbed, getting raped? The average person,” he said. “What I’m creating is a necessary evil. It’s a necessity.”
The idea came to KingBrown while working as an executive protection driver for a Congress member, who pointed out there was a gap in the market for armed drivers, according to the Black Wolf site. The company has “20+ years of combined training in Military Special Ops, Executive Protection, Private Detective, and Professional Celebrity Bodyguard Details,” and says the drivers are trained in simulated combat, vehicle tactics, and active shooter situations, among others.
Black Wolf did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment, but KingBrown told Atlanta News, “We’re not here to fight anybody, we’re not here to draw guns. Even though it says armed, we’re trained not to do that.”
Black Wolf provides three options for passengers to choose from, the most common being the armed protection driver who is trained in using a gun in emergency situations, and a school shuttle driver which operates as a school bus to bring children to school. But for those who don’t feel comfortable having an unknown entity armed with a gun driving you around, the app also provides an alternate option of an unarmed protection driver who is still trained to ensure the safety of the passenger.
The cost to hire an armed Black Wolf driver is the base price of $60 according to Atlanta News, or $50 for unarmed drivers and an additional $1.75 per mile added on.
Although KingBrown says the new rideshare option is necessary, Reddit users aren’t so sure, with many voicing skepticism over whether it is a good idea to give “gig workers” guns, with one person writing, “Ah yes nothing I want more than to hop in a car with an armed stranger. Because none of us have ever gotten into an Uber without thinking, ‘damn I wish this person was strapped.’”
And while KingBrown has assured passengers that the drivers will undergo extensive background checks, these are not always foolproof as seen in the separate mass shootings in Nashville, Tennessee, and Louisville, Kentucky, where both shooters were found to have purchased guns used in the attacks legally.
A study by the National Institute of Justice found that of those who carried out mass shootings, 77% were found to have purchased at least some of their guns legally, and according to Statista, in 94 mass shootings committed in the U.S. between 1982 and April 2023 – a vast majority – the shooters used guns they obtained legally.
In other words, KingBrown’s assurances that armed drivers are trustworthy are no guarantee, and as one person prophesized on Reddit: “When this goes wrong, it will go very wrong.”