As shootings and homicides continue to be recorded in record high numbers in Philadelphia, police are on patrol at rec centers and monitoring social media in an attempt be proactive and stop the violence before it starts. The city’s leaders like Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner, however, are fixated on gun control as the solution to the city’s crime problem, and Black Guns Matter founder and Philadelphia resident Maj Toure has some harsh criticism for those officials on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co.
Toure says that he doesn’t believe that it’s a coincidence that violent crime in the city dropped to its lowest level in decades in 2016, when Black Guns Matter first began holding workshops in the city on de-escalation as well as firearms safety and training. As the organization went national, however, Toure wasn’t able to devote the same time and attention to the program locally, and he says the city chose to pursue more ineffective (and unconstitutional) policies that focused on the gun and not the people pulling the trigger.
“I’m of the belief that they’re not interested,” he explained. “I’ve had conversations with these guys. They want to say something and continue to get funding… If we had $2-million and concentrated on Philadelphia we could cut some of this violence. Nip it right in the bud. I’m of the unfortunate belief that our local government, without a serious course correction, is not interested in solving the problem.”
Besides the apathy towards programs like Black Guns Matter, Toure points out the downright hostility displayed towards gun owners by the city as well; noting the Philadelphia PD’s Gun Permit Unit was closed for several months last year, creating a huge backlog of concealed carry applicants that continues to this day. It took lawsuits by the Firearms Policy Coalition and Gun Owners of America before the city agreed to re-open the unit responsible for processing concealed carry applications, which meant law-abiding citizens were being denied their right to carry at a time when shootings and murders were skyrocketing to 30-year highs.
While much of the violence in Philadelphia involves firearms, the problem is actually one of violent acts and not inanimate objects. Take the brutal assault and carjacking of a 78-year old woman by a group of Philadelphia teens that happened back in January, for instance.
“They knew I couldn’t fight them. I was vulnerable,” 78-year-old Angie Bellissima said.
Bellissima was viciously attacked by a group of teens back in January. She says the teens stalked her before the attack, and took off in her vehicle.
“They pushed me down. As I was falling, they pepper-sprayed my face and I fell to the ground. I just had cancer surgery so I fell on these fingers,” Bellissima said.
The victim tells us the teens didn’t stop there.
“I rolled to the other side and she punched me on the other side and she hesitated, came back and punched me in my face,” Bellissima said.
Bellissima suffered from a stress heart attack as a result of the incident.
Another assault took place last Thursday when a Philadelphia man was attacked by another group of teens, this time armed with cinder blocks and bricks.
The answer to these issues lies far deeper than slapping another gun control law on the books, according to Toure. He believes the political machine in Philadelphia has to be broken before real, substantive change for the better can take place. At the moment, he says the city’s leaders care far more about the wishes of developers and high dollar donors than they do the beleaguered residents of Philly’s most violent neighborhoods, but he’s hoping to change that, and hinted broadly at another potential run for office in Philadelphia in the not-too-distant future.
There’s much more of my conversation with Maj Toure in the video window above, including a brief discussion about the future of Black Guns Matter and why he’s looking for some land outside of the city limits to call his own.
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