Events Black Guns Matter: Maj Toure at the Intersection Recoil Staff July 7, 2021 Join the Conversation It started in the summer of 2016. The back-to-back shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile brought what many saw as a groundswell around race issues in the United States. It was in this atmosphere that the #BlackLivesMatter movement began to firmly take root. But it wasn’t the only one to get started. Maj Toure answered his cell phone from his mobile-training RV somewhere in Mississippi; he talked smoothly but with the speed and passion of an activist. The interview careened down one fully fascinating rabbit hole and then headed down another intriguing path, any sense of a quick, boring media interview long since evaporated. Maj Toure (pronounced like “Taj”) is a complex character. A product of North Philadelphia, he’s a self-described “reformed scumbag” turned rap artist turned Second Amendment champion with some ambitions to political office. He’s been a guest speaker at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference, a lightning rod for the Libertarian Party, a thorn in the side of the NRA, and a huge advocate for firearms safety in urban communities. We don’t have to tell you that people of color are underrepresented in the firearms community, and there are even fewer who are former rappers. There are some to be sure, but traditionally this has been the realm of the white male conservative. Toure knew it was time to grasp a parallel movement, one that brought the true meaning of the Second Amendment to the forefront: The Second Amendment is for absolutely everyone. Thus, the nonprofit educational organization, Black Guns Matter, was born. The mission of Black Guns Matter is to give Black Americans a resource to learn about firearms safely and responsibly. In the last four years, Toure has crossed the country holding Black Guns Matter seminars and workshops advocating legal gun ownership, informing citizens of their rights, and teaching basic firearms safety. The RV he drives is an adjustment made during COVID. “I love it,” he said, “I was tired of the airlines being my master.” He tells us his seminars are funded by the likes of Gun Owners of America, Pete Brownell, the CEO of Brownells, and sales of merchandise from his website. And as we now know, 2016 wasn’t the sort toxic soup that quarantine tensions combined with the death of George Floyd in 2020 would be. Black Guns Matter has seen its fair share of the spotlight recently. As gun sales in the nation have soared, the highest sales increase in firearms, percentage-wise, has been from Black Americans, with the National Shooting Sports Foundation reporting that gun sales among Blacks are up 58 percent through September. With that as a backdrop, Toure has staked out a new leadership position, becoming a go-to source for insight on the cultural shift. Days after Floyd’s death, Toure was beating the streets of Minneapolis giving free and impromptu firearms instruction to locals. “I said when we started Black Guns Matter that we’re going to make Black people the largest new gun-owning demographic,” Toure said. “What’s happened in the last year is that a lot of people woke up. They’re realizing they have rights, and the government isn’t there to help them. They’re realizing more guns in the hands of the people means less crime in the street.” Naturally, that sentiment rankles a number of gun control advocates, but Toure is never worried about controversy or mincing words, even among those who share his views. Some were critical, some cautiously optimistic, and others supportive. In 2019, the Libertarian Party rescinded an invitation for him to be the party’s keynote speaker at its national presidential nomination convention in Texas after he allegedly began a feud with a prospective party donor. He had a public breakup with the NRA too, questioning the group’s effectiveness in urban communities. Though there have been some additional feuds and internet beefs over the last four years, Toure has consistently found his way to national forums. An RV serves as a mobile HQ for Black Guns Matter. RECOIL: Can you tell us how you first got the idea for Black Guns Matter and how it started? Maj Toure: In 2016, we saw a bunch of people saying, “Black Lives Matter.” I don’t really care if you think my life matters — that’s on you and not me. For us, Black Guns Matter was started along the original meaning of the phrase. Back in 2016, it wasn’t a politically co-opted and stolen movement, like it is today. That summer, it seemed a week didn’t go by without a young Black man being killed by authorities. At that time, I agreed with the meaning. Now? Now, the organization itself has been co-opted. Where is the money going? The phrase still exists, and the true meaning is there, but it stands for something different now than it did then. A lot of the people screaming Black lives matter — now — are the same people that are against firearms. Historically, gun control was designed to prove Black lives don’t matter. The biggest way to show that you believe Black lives matter is to support Black gun ownership, that Black people should have guns to protect their own lives. How were you introduced to gun culture? Maj Toure: There wasn’t a real introduction; I just always had guns. Where I grew up, guns are everywhere, but you know what’s not? Any info about safety and basic gun knowledge. Like any of the rules about safe storage and handling are missing; they just weren’t part of my community. But I’m not all about the gun itself. I’ve never built an AR-15 in my life; that’s not my twist. There’s a bang in stopping criminals and stopping tyranny. That’s my gun culture. What’s the overarching goal of Black Guns Matter? Maj Toure: We’re finally fighting fire with water. We’re coming from a place of love and empathy. I want to educate you about your rights and your options. If you decide you don’t want a gun, that’s cool. If you want to give it back to the government, you’re free to do that. I respect your freedom to be wrong. All I ask is that my freedom gets respected, too. What steps have you and Black Guns Matter taken to promote firearms advocacy? Maj Toure: Just because someone lives in the hood doesn’t mean that they’re cool with the killers. As a stand-alone organization, we understand there are real issues we have to address in certain communities, but the easiest way to ensure safety in those areas is to ensure they’re armed and know how to use their guns. People scared of those black scary guns use the same kind of scare tactics that people who are scared of Black people use. Either they’re scared or just outright dislike Black people. That bias, that fear, that conditioning … If you’re around guns, guns aren’t scary until it becomes an imminent threat. Everyone wants their side to be right instead of acknowledging that there are problems. People on the “BLM end” say it’s systemic racism. I’m not saying it’s systemic racism, but a systematic problem of the state using inappropriate force on their people. The real issue is to acknowledge that all gun control is racist. Gun control was started to stop Black people from owning guns. Period. Oh, it morphed over time, but racism is the root of it. Over 20,0000 regulations are rooted in racism. After we acknowledge that, we can take care of the next issue. The government isn’t here to save us — there’s more than 200 years of history that calls BS on that. It starts at the Black community, but it affects everyone. I’m not leaning on Black as a crutch, but it’s the immediate focus because that’s where the cancer was injected. Maj on the range with new students. What kind of impact did COVID have? Maj Toure: We had to push back some classes, but the events of the last year have helped. So many people got complacent, got comfortable. But now we’re in a place where you’ve got politicians — Republicans, Democrats, all of them — telling people they can’t go to church. They can’t go to the gym. Jobs going away. And then the protests started, not just for COVID, but because culture started shifting so suddenly. And attitudes shifted. People were fed up. I had people calling me asking for ammo. I gave away thousands of rounds of ammo when the lockdown started. Well, Black Guns Matter surely got some attention during it all … Maj Toure Yeah? It should. I should be on the cover of every gun magazine out there. We’re making soldiers out here, making Americans that are masculine men and solid women. Things have been real stale, and we’re here pumping new blood into the muscles of this country, which is exactly what’s been needed. You look at the politicians in America and it’s clear we need new leaders, new thinkers. We need new game out here, and that’s what Black Guns Matter is about. Black Guns Matter is a movement, not a membership-driven organization. I want us to be exposed. The foundations of shooting aren't up for discussion, but students' ideas and questions are without judgment. Do you think the gun industry as a whole has appealed to people of color? Maj Toure: The gun industry is really good at marketing to tactical dudes — and that’s not most gun owners in America. They keep recruiting in an echo chamber, and that’s not going to make it easy to get new customers, new consumers. If you’re running a business, wouldn’t it make sense to tap a new market instead of going back to the same Black-Rifle-Coffee-drinking gun dude? I mean, if you lost 30 percent of the tactical dudes but gained 70 percent of the new-gun-owner movement, which one is the better investment? Maj Toure Everyday Carry Maj on his EDC: “I keep it simple and practical. People over-complicate things, and it confuses others or themselves.” What attracts people to Black Guns Matter? Maj Toure: We are entry-level; we just want them over that first hurdle and to remove the barriers of entry. We want to get people’s mindsets right. Who they’re fighting, and why the Second Amendment applies to them. If we can get you there, we can get you into that advanced class. We integrate and partner with local instructors and attorneys and local ranges, so people can invest money back into their own communities. The reality is they just want to know that the people that they’re learning from understand their culture or subculture without inherent bias or assumptions. People are tired of absolutes, and our only absolute is safety. The foundation of stance/grip/sight picture is not really up for discussion, but their own ideas and questions and challenges can be answered without judgment. Without making anyone feel stupid. When people see our classes online or in social media they say, “I like what he’s talking about. He’s honest and doesn’t let either ‘side’ get a pass.” If you’re a sh*tty person and you’re Black, congrats, you’re a sh*tty person. Same if you’re white. It’s about being objective, level-headed, and honest about things that are actually racist, not just applying a label to something. Nuance. And it’s not just in class, but people can see videos of media interviews online too. Black Guns Matter says they find a place for everyone, “Beginners add to our team and intermediates help the beginners — there's a spot for everyone.” Give the gun industry an idea. How should they cater to the new gun owner? Maj Toure: Imagine if the geniuses in the gun industry decided they really wanted to work in a new demographic. What if they built a $5 million facility in downtown Chicago? It’d be a gun range, sure, but a gun range with classrooms where we could teach conflict resolution. Where we could teach gun safety. Where we could teach a health class or a wellness class. Imagine that. But the gun industry keeps on marketing to the military, to law enforcement, or to guys who just identify with that. Maybe it’s racism. Maybe it’s fear. Whatever, it’s all old school. Are you sick of being asked about why you left the NRA, or is that an important piece of Black Guns Matter? Maj Toure: I’m still a member, actually, but that just means I pay my dues. I don’t do anything. There are 5 million members of the NRA, that’s it, and there’s nearly 100 million gun owners in the United States. Many of those people are becoming more engaged, and the NRA’s just not talking for them. The NRA wants to just work for the gold blazer crew and make their money, but they’re not down here fighting for urban America. They’re ineffective in urban America, and you’ve got other groups like Gun Owners of America and the Firearms Policy Coalition showing results. I want the NRA to change; hell, I’ll be first in line to help them change, but they’re not pushing for reform. Look back in history, and you’ll see where the NRA supported gun control — they lobbied for gun control, and now they’re not listening to the people who want less of that gun control. What’s your favorite everyday carry piece these days? Maj Toure: It’s a Glock 19. Stock as f*ck. I don’t have a red dot on it. Nothing. It’s boringly reliable, but it’s got everything you need. Gaston Glock was smart as hell. He’s like Steve Jobs with Apple, putting everything — everything — you need right there in one smart package. It’s almost too much perfection. Maj Toure can be found on Instagram at: @majtoureBlack Guns Matter has a YouTube Channel as well.Photography by Samantha Lauraina. More on the Politics of Gun Ownership And What You Can Do About It Year after year, the Second Amendment is Alive and Well, if you look past the news. Young Americans Oppose Gun Control.American Contingency has faced some of the greatest Censorship to date.No One Is Coming To Save You: RuneNation on Personal Ownership in the Age of Censorship.Warrior Poet Society, John Lovell addresses Censorship, The Second Amendment, and Moving Forward.In Early 2021, Instagram Decided that the Second Amendment was Fake News. Read the Story.Time to Act: the ATF moves against Pistol Stabilizing Braces.SB Tactical versus the ATF: What Winning Looks Like.Punishment for Good Behavior. 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