NYC Gun Buyback Proposal Trades Beyoncé Tickets for Weapons

Wednesday, 27 Feb 2013 04:07 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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A hip-hop record label executive has proposed a unique plan to get illegal guns off New York City's streets: Offer mentorships and Beyoncé tickets to those who turn their weapons in.

Michael "Blue" Williams, who has managed musicians like OutKast and Cee-Lo Green as the head of Family Tree Entertainment, has proposed the city's first private sector gun buyback program to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

"We want to get as many guns off the streets, and if this works, we'd like to support it," Kelly told the New York Daily News Monday, adding that the proposal needs to be reviewed further.

If approved, the so-called "Guns for Greatness" program would give youths with illegal guns mentorships and concert tickets in exchange for turning their weapons in. The mentors would be execs in a number of different industries, including finance and music.

"This program aims to provide young people with an opportunity to receive guidance and inspiration from committed mentors, an important option that will enable them to experience possibilities other than a life surrounded by gun violence and unnecessary shootings and killing," Williams, 43, wrote in his pitch letter to Kelly.

Williams has already raised $75,000 for the program, which he hopes to launch March 23 at a Brooklyn church. Radio stations and other record labels have already vowed to help out.

"The Beyoncé show is coming to Brooklyn; the Jay-Z show is coming to Yankee Stadium. Our goal is to reach out to individuals who are in my industry, in my world and who I have an association with and get their support," Williams told the Daily News. "I think we should all work together to help get guns off the streets."

Beyoncé is scheduled to perform at the Brooklyn Barclay's Center in August during a stop on The Mrs. Carter Show tour. Her husband Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake are slated to play Yankee Stadium in July.

It is not clear yet whether Beyoncé or Jay-Z will endorse the program.

The "Guns for Greatness" program will target young black and Latino men, ages 16 to 36, Williams said, noting in his proposal that 95 percent of shooting victims and shooting suspects in New York City are black or Latino.

The NYPD's current gun buyback program began in 2008 with the collection of more than 2,500 firearms, a number that has since shrunk drastically. Last year, only 921 guns were turned in.

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