(AllHipHop News) Gun violence has become a major social and political issue recently, and now one high-profile Hip-Hop executive is proposing a plan to encourage young people to trade in their firearms for mentorships and concert tickets.
The New York Daily News is reporting that hugely successful artist manager and president of Family Tree Entertainment, Michael "Blue" Williams, sent a letter to the New York Police Department pitching the idea for "Guns For Greatness." If approved by NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, William's program will be the city's first private sector gun buyback initiative.
"We want to get as many guns off the streets, and if this works, we’d like to support it," Kelly told the Daily News.
After meeting with top brass at NYPD last week, Williams wrote an open letter addressed to Kelly. The letter was co-signed by Richard Buery (President and CEO of the Children’s Aid Society), L. Londell McMillan (publisher of The Source), and former federal prosecutor Kenneth Thompson. It read in part:
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.
One way Williams hopes to help get the guns off the streets is by offering tickets to see superstars like Beyoncé and Jay-Z at their next New York concerts.
“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,” said Williams.
Williams has a long history working in the music business. He has managed Hip-Hop heavyweights like OutKast, Cee-lo Green, and Scarface. He started his managerial career at Queen Latifah's Flavor Unit, and worked at both Def Jam and LaFace Records. He was also a business partner of the late Chris Lighty.
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It was Lighty's death last August as the result of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot and his own recent gun charge that inspired Williams to propose "Guns For Greatness."
“It was just sort of like a pushing point,” Williams said. “It eventually convinced me that one person can make a difference if they believe in something.
Williams says he has already raised $75,000 for "GFG" with the goal of reaching $100,000.
New York has had a city-run handgun buyback program in place for years. With participants receiving up to $200 for each firearm the costs for such a deal can be expensive for taxpayers. Similar programs in San Francisco ran out of money. William's privatized "Guns For Greatness" could be a financial remedy for cash-strapped city governments.