maj

An activist and artist in Philadelphia named Maj Toure is pushing a campaign he’s calling “Black Guns Matter,” in hopes of convincing law-abiding urban citizens to obtain their concealed carry permits in order to fight back against crime in the very neighborhoods where it’s most prevalent.

Folks, I’m all for that.

WHAT IF we stopped trying to get guns off the streets and instead started licensing young men in Philly to legally pack heat?

Do I have your attention?

Yeah, Maj Toure got mine, too, when he suggested the idea, which he’s pitching through a campaign he’s calling Black Guns Matter. Catchy, right? And provocative.

Toure, 29, is a local activist and artist. In many ways, he’s also a walking, talking contradiction of what turns out to be an increasingly stereotypical idea of gun owners.

Toure is a young African American man who grew up in North Philadelphia watching the destruction caused by gun violence, but who nonetheless was attracted to firearms, and became an official, dues-paying NRA member and legal gun owner.

“The stigma, especially in an urban environment like Philly, is if you have a gun, you’re either law enforcement or the bad guy,” Toure said when we talked recently. “What we’re trying to do is say that just because you have a gun doesn’t make you the bad guy. But while you have your firearm, which you have the right to have, you have to be a responsible, card-carrying good guy.”

That sounds great, right? After all, the stereotypical concealed carrier is an older white person from the suburbs or rural areas (very much “Gun Culture 1.0”), but that doesn’t reflect the exciting and much more inclusive face of “Gun Culture 2.0,” which has seen a massive influx of young, urban, and female shooters as the fastest-growing demographics. I want as many well-armed and well-trained citizens on the streets as possible as a deterrent to crime.

After all, as gun sales are skyrocketing (as reflected in record NICS checks on almost a monthly basis) and the demographics are showing much more diverse ownership, per capita violent crime and even gun “accidents” continue to trend downward to all-time historic lows. It seems that Robert Heinlein turns out to have been absolutely correct when he claimed that an armed society is a polite society.

Of course, not everything Toure said is going to fly with everyone, especially when he went a bit off the rails and suggested that law abiding citizens might consider using guns on bad cops.

And a card-carrying good guy, according to Toure, includes those protecting themselves against a bad guy breaking into their home, or a bad guy shooting up a public space, or – and this is where he lost me – a bad guy in a police uniform.

Given the national cases of police killing unarmed black men, Toure’s thinking might be defensible to some, but not to me. Arming yourself against any law-enforcement officer sounds nuts to me and can’t lead to anything other than some Wild West disaster.

It is, from a practical and criminal justice perspective, borderline insanity to consider drawing a weapon on a law enforcement officer. I simply cannot support that mindset as a matter of policy because it would only be legally justified in the rarest and most farfetched of situations.

But most of what Toure is pushing—the arming of law-abiding citizens who are most at risk of violent crime—is precisely what we should cheer as citizens and supporters of the right to keep and bear arms that is every man and woman’s natural right.