Music can be a real life-saver, and no story exhibits the message like the one you’re about to read.
In New Orleans, a trumpeter named Shamarr Allen wanted to find a way to get guns out of kids’ hands, so he turned to what he knows best: music. He recently created a gun-for-trumpet exchange program — called Trumpet Is My Weapon — and has so far collected four guns that he turned over to police.
“I had some trumpets lying around, and I know for me, the trumpet saved me,” he says. Allen, who’s from the city’s Lower Ninth Ward, started the program after learning about Devante Bryant, 9, was fatally shot in front of his 7th Ward home earlier this month.
“I have a nine-year-old son, so for me, it just hit me differently,” Allen says. So he posted on social media: “To all the youth in New Orleans, Bring me a gun and I’ll give you a trumpet no questions asked.”
The musician called New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who connected him to Shaun Ferguson, the chief of police. Allen said that for the program to work, the police couldn’t ask him any questions about who gave him the guns — and he wouldn’t ask the kids any questions either. Allen says the police agreed to take the guns from him without asking for details; they just want the guns off the streets.
For his very first exchange, Allen collected a fully loaded gun from a young girl. He said it opened his mind. “I would never suspect that she would have [a gun]. And she was the most excited about getting [a trumpet],” Allen says.
Allen has exchanged all the trumpets he had to trade, and he says he knows more kids want to participate. So he started an online fundraiser, and in just a week, he has raised more than $26,000 for music supplies. People have also donated instruments.