In December, about a week after the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Beyonce and other celebrities appeared in a gun control video at the behest of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign. On Tuesday, Michael "Blue" Williams, the head of Family Tree Entertainment suggested something that would require Beyonce -- and perhaps others -- to give up something more concrete than face time to the gun control campaign: tickets.
The "program," as such, is just getting started, so it's unclear who will join in. It's a twist on gun buyback programs, which are usually run by agencies such as local or federal authorities. Guns for Greatness. as Williams has dubbed it, would be the first private gun buyback in New York City, although Williams would still need to enlist the help of the police.
Williams hopes his industry connections will enable him to get this done. Family Tree Entertainment oversees the careers of hip-hop artists such as Outkast, Scarface and Killer Mike, among others. He said,
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 has already met with the NYPD and has even sent a written proposal for Guns to Greatness to the city's police commissioner, Raymond Kelly. In the letter, the hip-hop mogul wrote:
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.
In my perfect world, I'd love to have a gift package for signing up for the mentorship program that is worth way more than $250. I think that when you're dealing with younger people, you have to offer a little more to incentivize them.
Williams is speaking of New York City's everyday buyback program. Handguns and assault rifles can be dropped off anonymously 24 hours a day, seven days a week at any city precinct, in exchange for up to $250, and there will be no questions asked.
Williams' letter was co-signed by community leaders including former federal prosecutor Kenneth Thompson, and Guns for Greatness has also received support from others, including some record labels, New York City radio station Hot 97 and the International House of Pancakes (IHOP).
Guns for Greatness is still in limbo, though. An NYPD spokeswoman said,
The police commissioner supports gun buybacks; however, he has not reviewed the proposal.