Every time I watch the news, I hear about new wars or crises that we are getting involved in internationally, and I can’t help but think ‘what about the war on the streets, right here at home?’ An astonishing 32,000 people per-year die from gun violence, and its not just the “criminal-types” that people immediately think of doing the shooting. Places people consider “safe” suburban towns have seen their share of tragedy at the hands of teen gunslingers over the course of the last few years. In fact, as I was writing this, I saw a horrific news story about a 5-year-old who shot a 3-year-old with a gun that his 9-year-old friend found in his house. This story is heartbreaking, but relatable for me. By the time I was 15 years old I had been shown around a dozen handguns. In fifth grade a friend of mine brought a gun, which he’d found under his brother’s mattress, to school! That may seem crazy but pretty much all of my experiences with guns at that age were the same. A friend stole it from his dad, or found it somewhere. These weren’t bad kids, they were just trying to impress their friends. It was a different kind of show-and-tell. My story is not uncommon. When my friends Kevin Wright and NASCAR driver Alex Bowman visit schools to promote their anti-bullying initiative SchoolTipLine.com, they ask an auditorium full of teens if they’ve ever seen a gun in person before, 90% of the students raise their hands. This is not a pro-gun/anti-gun issue. Whether the guns these kids see today, and the ones I saw as a child, were legal or illegal, they were handled recklessly. It’s time for me to buy some guns, and these are the guns that I’m after.
My good friend Charles Fisher stopped by my office the other day for one of his regular visits. Charles has been serving the communities of New York and the surrounding areas for many years and has always been an avid proponent for change. I have worked with Charles and the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council several times. I have participated in his clothing drives, given food to the needy at his Thanksgiving events, and traveled with him to Rockaway Beach to provide relief for Superstorm Sandy victims. In recent years, Charles has had a tremendous amount of success with his anti-gun violence initiatives in Rockaway, Queens, one of New York City’s roughest areas. During the summer of 2011 there were 111 murders by firearm in New York City. By the summer of 2013, the number was down to 66. While his initiative was held in only one area of Queens, New York City and state officials recognized his contributions to getting those numbers down. A few months ago, Charles and his son, Randy Fisher teamed up with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to officially create Hip Hop Against Gun and Gang Violence week. This program will allow the Fischer’s team to visit hundreds of elementary schools and talk to thousands of young children about the danger of guns and gangs.
(From Left to Right) Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Randy Fisher, Charles Fisher, and former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly
Charles and Randy are just two of the many people who I know that are working hard to combat gun violence and improve our communities. It’s time I get down. I want to be like Charles and Randy Fisher, and I know exactly how I’m going to do it: I’m going to buy some guns!
Gun drives are nothing new. There have been MANY incredible people and organizations that have put hundreds of successful drives together. Recently I discovered some interesting information about these buyback programs. While cities like New York do have several per-year, the budgets for these drives are usually only around $20,000. So people come, turn in their guns, no questions asked, and receive $200 for each firearm, but each drive only nabs about 100 guns. Then what ends up happening is people with guns show up and have to be turned away. That’s why you never hear or see advertisements for these things. The state knows that it doesn’t take much press to get 100 guns and they don’t want too many people to show up and not be able to trade in their gun. The bottom line is, state governments either don’t have the budget or are not willing to spend the kind of money that will allow for a more impactful gun buyback. Occasionally a wealthy celebrity will donate a few hundred thousand dollars to help out. This issue is close to my heart and I am starting a new initiative to pull guns off of the streets. I’m ready to buy some guns! Now, I don’t want to just buy some guns myself, one time, I want to build something that can grow and become permanent. I have already spoken to several of my corporate partners about creating a program that will allow us to pull more guns off of our streets on a consistent basis. I WANT to advertise. Let’s get the kind of budget together that will allow us to make this an event that thousands of people can participate in.
As I’ve been thinking about how I will execute my gun drive, I discovered a flaw in the way that these buybacks have been conducted historically. I’ve noticed that drives in the past tend to take place during the middle of the day, in the central areas of cities. The problem with this is that many of the people who you are hoping will turn in their guns, are not going to take their gun into the middle of the city at 2pm. To solve this, I would install 24-hour gun drive trailers in rough areas in the city. This 24-hour policy will also give parents ample opportunity to bring in guns that they may discover in their children’s rooms on late-night search.
This is not just about me. I don’t have the time to organize gun drives regularly. That’s why I’m calling on my famous friends in sports and entertainment to partner with me so we can have these things monthly, or even weekly! Even if we’re not friends or have never even met, I’m talking to that star athlete in Miami or the hot rapper in LA, if you have the platform to reach people, let me know, I want to help you set up gun drives in your area. In gun drives, I also see an incredible opportunity for big corporations to get involved and prove that they care about the community. Why wouldn’t some of the big box stores, many of which sell guns over-the-counter, want to help organizations take guns off of the streets? It doesn’t matter what your political stance on the right to bear arms is, we can all agree that no one should be in possession of an illegal gun. It’s time for me to buy some guns!
If you know anyone who works in the Community Outreach program for a corporation, pass this blog on to them and let them know I want to buy some guns! Even if we can only save one life, it will be worth it.
See below for information on some state-run gun buyback programs.
|Newark, NJCamden, NJ||The guns that are turned in won’t be languishing in a storage facility. Instead, they will be melted down and turned into jewelry by Jewelry For A Cause, a company that raises money for schools and charities.|
|Boston, MA||Residents received $200 Target gift cards in exchange for their guns. Guns will be sent to the Boston Police Ballistics Unit. They will be tested to determine whether or not the weapon has been involved in criminal activity. If the test is positive, the gun will be retained as evidence, and an investigation will follow. If the test is negative, the weapon will be slated for destruction.|
|Tuscon, AZPheonix, AZ||Firearms acquired through programs such as gun buybacks or seized in the course of a criminal investigation that are legal for private citizens to possess must be disposed of by sale to a federal firearms licensed dealer.All firearms collected during the gun buy back will be destroyed in accordance with Arizona Law. In the rare event the weapon is deemed to be stolen, if applicable, it will be returned to the rightful owner.|
|Oakland, CALos Angeles, CASan Francisco, CA||Hundreds of area residents received $200 cash for each firearm sold, “no questions asked.” The guns were to be destroyed.There was a buyback program in Los Angeles that offered prepaid credit and grocery cards in exchange for guns.|
|Baltimore, MD||Paid a $50 “bounty” for surrendered guns and $100 for tips leading to the confiscation of illegal guns.|
|Detroit, MI||People could receive from $50 to $100 for unloaded, operational weapons.|
|Milwaukee, WI||Turns guns into garden toolshttp://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/milwaukees-ceasefire-week-schedule-released-includes-gun-buyback-b99253364z1-256174891.html|
Every year I make limited edition custom cufflinks for my close friends and family. Now, I am selling only 5 of them on my website with all of the proceeds going to gun buy-back programs. You can buy them by clicking here: bit.ly/1op8xKf. Get them while you can and support an amazing cause!