Guns are a hot topic around the nation. With mass shootings popping up constantly and murder rates climbing, there are many searching for answers. Another hot topic in the nation, though not as prevalent, is “Black Lives Matter.” North Philadelphia artist and entrepreneur, Maj Toure, is looking to find answers for both issues. He is starting with “The Solutionary License To Carry Drive,” which will be happening later this month in Philly and is backed by the National African American Gun Association. This drive encourages Black men and women to come out, listen to a panel discussion on responsible gun ownership and register for their licenses to carry. “In urban communities, especially, it’s kind of like a stigma where if you have a firearm, somehow you’re the bad guy, or you must be law enforcement, and that’s not the case,” explains Toure, who is a licensed gun carrier. “We’re really just trying to change that perception, because we’ve got to protect ourselves.”
The drive also serves to teach conflict resolution skills and train gun owners on how to handle their firearms. The drive’s venue, the Philly Firearms Academy (directly across the street from the licensing center) is the perfect place to do so, according to Toure. “We’re trying to also get more people who are licensed to carry or want to learn more about firearms to come in and get trained,” he said. “There’s too much random irresponsible stuff going on with firearms, but we want to show people that they have a place where they can come and be trained and learn, whether at the beginner, intermediate or expert level and take on the responsibility as a good guy or girl.”
It is Toure’s aim to present a new spin on Black Lives Matter and improve the Black community’s interactions with police. “Black guns matter on a general and specific level. In the Black community, our relationship with the police is very sketchy, to say the least. So, walking around with my hands up as a target or with a defeatist mindset is not for me. A lot of the marching or complaining or whining about the problems won’t [solve anything]. When we’re armed, responsible and willing to stand up for our rights, then it matters, but I’m not in the business of trying to convince somebody that my life matters. I don’t care if you don’t think that Black lives matter. I just know that you’re gonna respect it” he explained. “Most times, these people who are being violent towards a group of people only understand defense, violence-in-kind or the threat of violence. For our community, our Black guns, our Black dollars, Black brains and our Black economy is what matters and you’re gonna respect it as such or we ain’t really gonna bang with you like that. We’re gonna define our issues. We’re not gonna let somebody else define what I’m supposed to do. You’re not gonna keep shooting at me and think I’m just supposed to march or have a candlelight vigil. That’s only helping candle sales and t-shirt printing sales. Really, we’ve got to train ourselves to be more on top of our right to exist on Earth and I don’t care if anybody agrees, they’re just gonna respect it.”
It is also Toure’s belief that such a movement will help to “retrain” the police forces and change how they view Black gun owners. He said, “Because I have a firearm does not mean I am a bad guy and you have to train yourself as such. When you’re in a place demonizing just because of the way that [people] look, that’s on you. But I’m not gonna not exercise my right, just because you have a problem with it. I know officers. If seven out of ten guys are licensed to carry, they’ll see the change. If that’s happening from district to district, something is changing, so this stereotype has to change. That becomes the standard. To be honest, we’re helping good police officers do their jobs by being a physical deterrent. If an officer doesn’t respect the law, then he’s a thug and thugs get dealt with how thugs get dealt with.”
In addition to the aforementioned reasons for the gun registration drive, Toure is trying to empower people to start exercising their Constitutional right to bear arms. “It’s your right to say, no, I don’t want to do that. You’ve got to have something to back up your words, and a lot of times, it’s a firearm,” Toure explained. “It’s for each individual citizen to enforce the laws of their home, of their land. If I’m not doing anything that’s affecting or harming someone’s personal property or their well-being, I can do what I want. Having a firearm is to protect from people who being coming into my house or on my person to try to infringe on my ability to exist.”
The Solutionary License To Carry Drive is going down on Saturday, May 21, from 11 AM to 2 PM at the Philly Firearms Academy (933 Spring Garden Street). Toure hopes to spread the gospel of Black Guns Matter to other cities, including Chicago, Miami, Detroit and New York in the near future.