Meet the New Orleans musician offering kids trumpets in exchange for guns

Francis Akhalbey Jul 23, 2020 at 09:00am

July 23, 2020 at 09:00 am | Activism & Campaigns, Opinions & Features

Francis Akhalbey

Francis Akhalbey | Staff Writer

July 23, 2020 at 09:00 am | Activism & Campaigns, Opinions & Features

Shamarr Allen's launched his gun exchange program to help curb violence on the streets of New Orleans -- Photo via @shamarrallen on Instagram

New Orleans musician, Shamarr Allen, is on a mission to help curb violence on the streets of his city by using his most cherished weapon and what kept him off the streets while growing up, trumpets.

Touched by the fatal shooting of a nine-year-old boy last week, the skilled trumpeter, who has played at various gigs around the world, decided to contribute in his very own way towards getting guns off the youth of New Orleans by tabling an ingenious offer on his Instagram page.

“To all youth in New Orleans, bring me a gun and I’ll give you a trumpet. No questions asked. I’m doing this until I run out of trumpets,” his July 14 post read.

Speaking to WVUE-TV after launching his initiative, Allen said: “I have a nine-year-old son and I grew up in that environment so I understand what those kids are going through. They aren’t bad kids, they just don’t have anything to do.”

According to the trumpeter, he was contacted hours after his Instagram post and has so far met up with a couple of kids to make exchanges.

“It’s five kids so far and one of them is a little girl, and that’s the thing to me, it’s like, man,” he said.

Though his program is in collaboration with the New Orleans Police Department, Allen said kids who bring him their guns won’t be apprehended or get into any kind of trouble with the police. He said the agreement is to hand over the recovered guns to the department to be dismantled without any questions asked whatsoever.

“If they give us a gun, we give them a trumpet. It’s no questions asked. You don’t have to do anything but meet me somewhere. You give me the gun, I give you the trumpet. You pick out the trumpet you want because it’s always a bunch of different ones,” he told WDSU-TV.

Reiterating kids who drop off guns won’t get into any trouble, Allen said he has spoken to the police to make sure the kids are protected.

“The conversation is like, man, I have a gun am I going to get in trouble? Are you really giving trumpets for guns? Some of them don’t believe it. I asked them [NOPD] before we did anything if we’re going to do this, I need to make sure these kids are going to be safe. I need to know that all I need to do is get these guns from them and bring them to you and it’s a done deal. They [NOPD] agreed to it,” he added.

Allen, who said he was going to do it until he runs out of trumpets in his Instagram post, has so far received a lot of support. A GoFundMe set up by the trumpeter to help purchase trumpets for the program has so far raised over $12,000, surpassing its $6,500 goal. According to Allen, kids who drop off guns receive a trumpet valued around $250 as well as music books. Other musicians have also partnered with him to offer free online lessons for kids who receive the trumpets.

“The Trumpet Is My Weapon is a mantra that I have used over the years.  I began using that mantra because the trumpet really became my weapon and tool for my success.  It has opened doors and sent me places that as a kid from the Lower 9th Ward, statistics say I should have never been,” Allen explains about his program.

“The goal of The Trumpet Is My Weapon Campaign and Gun Exchange Program is to put trumpets, and eventually other instruments, in the hands of our kids so that they can use it as their weapon and tool for success while taking guns off the street at the same time.

“With a communal effort we can make a difference in the lives of others.  Even one life saved is a step in the right direction.”

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