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New Orleans Musician Raises Money, Provides Instruments To Kids In Exchange For Guns

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now a story about a trumpeter who is hoping that music might help reduce gun violence...

SHAMARR ALLEN: My name is Shamarr Allen. I'm a trumpeter from New Orleans, La., a producer, songwriter, singer.

GREENE: Last week, Allen learned of a shooting in his city. A 9-year-old boy, Devante Bryant, was killed.

ALLEN: I have a 9-year-old son. So for me, it just hit me different, you know?

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

He wanted to find a way to get guns out of the hands of kids.

ALLEN: I had some trumpets laying around. And I know, for me, that trumpet saved me.

MARTIN: So he posted on social media and said, to all the youth in New Orleans, bring me a gun, and I'll give you a trumpet - no questions asked.

ALLEN: I wanted to build a relationship and trust with the kids so that they wouldn't have to worry about getting into any trouble.

GREENE: The musician called the city's mayor and got the police to agree that they would take the guns from him without asking for any details.

ALLEN: And I say, listen, I have a different connection with these kids because I grew up like them. I know what they're going through. I know the type of environment that they're in. And they aren't bad kids. They're just dealt into bad circumstances. They are trying and wanting to do other things, but it's nothing for them to do.

GREENE: So far, Allen has taken in four guns and given away four trumpets.

ALLEN: The first gun that I collected was from a girl - like a little girl. And it was the only gun that was fully loaded. And I just was like, man. Like, this a little girl - I would never suspect that she would have this. And she was the most excited about getting it. I gave her the trumpet. She has the information. If you want to get lessons, you could reach out to one of these teachers. They'll be willing to. I probably saved her situation. Yeah, I probably saved her situation.

MARTIN: Since he ran out of instruments, Allen started an online fundraiser. He has raised more than $10,000 for music supplies, and people have also donated their own instruments.

ALLEN: The trumpet was the first thing that showed me, oh, I really don't have to be here. It's really a whole 'nother world out here.

GREENE: And Allen is hoping that this instrument will have a similar impact for kids in New Orleans today.

ALLEN: So if I can create those little opportunities for one or two or three of them, they can actually bring that back to their neighborhood and do it all over again.

GREENE: That's the voice of trumpeter Shamarr Allen, who is trying to reduce gun violence in his community in New Orleans.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHAMARR ALLEN'S "DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO MISS NEW ORLEANS (FEAT. BOB FRENCH)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.