Where the Establishment and criminals oppress inner-city residents, the Second Amendment can help, according to Maj Toure, founder of the firearm-education program Black Guns Matter.
"The firearm is for me to defend my value system, my way of life," Toure said Monday while touting an upcoming event in Phoenix. "We're not just talking about police brutality. It could be any form of tyranny. It could be someone trying to rob you. We're not about 'hands up, don't shoot.' We're going to neutralize the threat, if need be."
Legendary rapper Tupac Shakur — who was murdered in 1996 — shot two off-duty police officers in 1993, but walked free because the drunk officers had started an altercation, Toure said. Similarly, if a "homicidal" cop exceeds his legal bounds, law-abiding gun owners can take control of the situation and shoot back, if justified.
In a recent video on the group's website, he has harsh words for the people who tell him he should "love" his enemies.
"You go love them," he says in the video. "To me, it's forever, 'fuck 'em.'"
This isn't your kinder, gentler, firearms discussion, obviously. The foul-mouthed budding hip-hop artist peppers his conservative talk on guns with a raw, streetwise edge.
Toure started the program last year out of an interest in bringing his own brand of firearm education and "hood"-influenced gun-rights philosophy to the masses. Funded primarily by internet crowdsourcing, Black Guns Matter has put on free programs in several East Coast cities in recent months, garnering media attention including interviews on Fox News.
The group has raised nearly $40,000 since July on GoFundMe.com. It also makes money with website sales of hoodies, T-shirts, and coffee mugs.
Toure and several group members are coming to metro Phoenix for the first time on May 5, offering free gun-safety training, a discussion on numerous firearms-related topics, and a Q&A with instructors, legal experts, and activists at an Avondale gun shop.
The group has no affiliation with Black Lives Matter. Toure emphasized that he'd like to see people of all colors at the events. He said the name refers to the fact that most guns are black.
But it's also true that many people who live in America's inner cities are black, he added, and they're among those "who may feel like they've been left out of the Second Amendment conversation."
The firearms rights of black people and minorities have traditionally been suppressed by the dominant culture, he explained. Yet those rights are an integral part of what makes Americans free, he said, because they prevent someone else from taking away freedoms.
The spirit of the phrase "Don't Mess With Texas" was backed up by the right of individuals to possess firearms, and wield them when necessary, Toure said.
"If you can't defend your policies and your resources, you don't have any," he said. "We teach how the Second Amendment is integral to your everyday life."
Marginalized people in society feel disenfranchised from that empowering tradition; Toure wants to "change those thought processes."
Firearms don't have to mean shooting, he said — their presence alone can calm a situation and prevent violence. And even without guns, he wants the public to understand, knowledge of the Second Amendment, firearm rights, and self-defense laws can be empowering.
One focus of his education message is the responsibility that comes with firearms.
He said the seminar not only covers many aspects of encourages people to preserve their gun rights by avoiding felony charges, and teaches people with convictions how to get their rights restored. (He was convicted of a misdemeanor during his "thug" days growing up in Philadelphia, he admitted.)
From an early age, he advises, children should be exposed to firearms and taught the proper way to handle them.
Toure doesn't tell participants they need to run out and buy a gun if they don't have one. He says education should come first.
At the same, he believes more guns and gun rights are the solution to the violence plaguing inner cities like his hometown of Philadelphia.
"Absolutely," places like Philly, Chicago, Baltimore, and other big cities should adopt more-permissive gun laws like Arizona's, he said.
"All of the places that have gun control seem to go hand-in-hand with extreme statistics" for shootings, Toure said.
In Arizona, most residents are free to walk or drive around most anywhere with a firearm, whether it's concealed or not. Self-defense laws include a type of castle doctrine that extends to vehicles and the ability to use deadly force to prevent the commission of certain crimes, like child molestation.
By design, he asserted, racists and Democrats have conspired over the years to keep guns out of the hands of inner-city residents, even in gun-friendly cities like Phoenix. Helping to create legions of "freethinking" individuals through his education classes, he hopes to reverse the trend.
Right-wing Arizonans may cheer Toure's message, except for the racists who fear guns in the hands of black people. Liberals, on the other hand, may be sympathetic to Toure's allegation of institutional racism, but generally aren't supportive of expanded gun rights.
Gerry Hills of Arizonans for Gun Safety said she was appalled by Toure's tactics, but not surprised.
She thinks he's backed by the gun industry and National Rifle Association.
"It's a nice marketing trick he's using, playing on the Black Lives Matter movement," Hills said. "He's not anti-Establishment. He's right here with the gun lobby ... He's opening up new markets for them."
The white male gun market is already "saturated," she said, which spurred the gun industry about 15 years ago to target marketing toward women and minorities.
Toure's message that more guns make America safer, whoever that message is geared toward, is fatally flawed, she claimed.
"We are awash with guns in this society," she said. "America should be the safest developed nation in the world."
Toure said he would welcome Hills to next month's discussion. He said he has received no overt support from the NRA — not that he'd mind if they offered.
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"I wish one of them from the gun lobby would give me a million — we could get so much more done," he said. "I don't want to be the NRA for the hood. I just want to inform the hood."
The Black Guns Matter free firearm safety event is scheduled to be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, May 5, at AZFirearms.com, located at 215 East Western Avenue in Avondale. It's sponsored in part by the store and GunFreedomRadio.com.
Toure said he's unsure how many people will come out, but that the group and shop would try to accommodate everyone who shows up.
Toure hopes to eventually bring the program to all 50 states.