NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans trumpeter, vocalist and bandleader is offering kids trumpets in exchange for guns.
Shamarr Allen started the project last week, after a 9-year-old boy was shot and killed and two teens wounded, news agencies reported.
“I have a 9-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,” Allen told WVUE-TV.
So — after checking with police to make sure that he wouldn’t get any kids in trouble and would be able to give police the guns for safe disposal — he posted a note on his Instagram account: “To all the youth in New Orleans, Bring me a gun and I’ll give you a trumpet no questions asked.”
Allen told WWL-TV that his life changed when he was 12 or 13 and first played for tips in the French Quarter.
“I realized, ‘OK, I can do this,’” he recounted. “Now, I’m traveling the world, this is my career because of that trumpet. So if it can do that for me, it can do that for someone else.”
He quickly ran through trumpets he owned but wasn’t using. Other people offered to help. Then he started an online fundraiser with a $6,500 goal. By Tuesday afternoon — four days in — he’d raised $8,800 for trumpets costing about $250 plus instruction books. He’s also raising money by selling T-shirts with the slogan “Trumpet is my weapon,” WWL-TV reported.
Several musicians have agreed to offer free virtual lessons to kids who get the trumpets, he said.
“You pick out the trumpet you want because it’s always a bunch of different ones,” Allen, who also is getting donated instruments, told WDSU-TV.