Thursday, August 6, 2020

Swapping guns for trumpets

New Orleans, Louisiana, is famous for jazz music, but it also has more gun violence that you'd expect. After hearing of the recent shooting of a boy from the city's 7th ward, local jazz trumpeter Shamarr Allen thought his extra trumpets might chain the tune played by kids susceptible to gun violence. "People don't understand that these kids are trying, and wanting to do other things," he said.

With police approval, Allen posted an offer on social media. "To the youth of New Orleans: bring me a gun and I'll give you a trumpet, no questions asked." He quickly collected four guns and depleted his supply of extra trumpets. One weapon was a handgun with ammunition given to him by a young girl. "She was the most excited about getting a trumpet," he said. Since then, Allen has gained support from local musicians who volunteer to give free lessons to anyone who puts down a gun and picks up music. An online fundraiser allowed Allen to collect $34,800 for instruments and supplies. He also received a number of instrument donations to his program, which he now calls "Trumpet is my Weapon."

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