The idea of guns being brought into a school is both troublesome and nerve-wracking.
So it is no surprise that when Maj Toure, the founder of Black Guns Matter, brought guns to a high school in Philadelphia to teach black youth about gun safety, there was more than a little controversy.
Thankfully, the guns were fake. More like water guns in fact. Orange replica firearms were distributed throughout a classroom at YESPhilly Accelerated High School according to Metro News.
The BGM leader educated the YESPhilly students through various workshops, covering topics like conflict resolution, de-escalation, firearm safety, their rights as citizens and the Second Amendment.
Maj Toure founded Black Guns Matter in 2015 and tours across the country providing Second Amendment education and information to urban communities according to the BGM website.
“I don’t think there’s a black gun culture or white gun culture, I think there’s an informed gun culture and an ignorant gun culture," Toure said.
Youth Empowerment Services, also known as YESPhilly, is a non-profit designed to support students who have dropped out or have been kicked out of school. The second-chance school's goal is to prepare students for college and to provide enrichment through workshops and special courses.
With gun violence and deaths of black men and women as a result of police encounters on the devastatingly high rise, YESPhilly was proud to partner with BGM for this initiative.
The principal of the school, Taylor Frome, said, “I think that they’re living in communities where there is a lot of gun access, without a lot of information, such as how to hold one. A lot of students need to learn safety, and there would be less gun-related incidents."
Toure knows that while black youth have easy access to guns, they may severely lack the understanding of the importance of gun safety and responsibility.
When the students were asked how many of them can get to a gun within 24 hours, three-quarters of the class responded that they could by raising their hands.
A BGM consultant, Jeanine Cook, gave the students multiple scenarios to play out regarding guns and how to prevent harm.
“If you do come across a firearm, don’t stick it in your pocket, talk to an adult. You might think it’s cool, and you’re playing around and shoot somebody by accident ... It does have life-damaging effects if you allow it to."
At the end of the day, the students appeared to have taken away a lot of new knowledge regarding gun safety and how to remain calm in police-encounter situations.
"I felt as though Black Guns Matter caught my attention and gave me something I wanted to learn about,” said 18-year-old Dymond King. "I needed this information."
Detwan Teller, a 19-year-old student, said the class taught him about "real-world, life things and real situations and discipline," and also 19 years old, Isaiah Nelson, said he learned about "responsibility with the firearms, and [Toure] made it fun."
YESPhilly was just one of the 13 stops along Toure's Justice Week gun workshop tour where he, accompanied by his team, will spread his message and with this goal in mind:
“Our future plan is to make sure that we can get this in public schools across America. That’s our long-term goal. Our short-term goal is to just stay open to any opportunities that may fall our way and just make sure that people are learning, especially young people. If that has to be a school setting, that will be tremendously powerful."