Guns collected in the Guns 4 Greatness gun buyback program

Guns collected in the Guns 4 Greatness gun buyback program. (Photo: NYPD)

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The “Beyoncé” gun buyback, as it was initially nicknamed by the media, has produced a stellar return.

The Guns 4 Greatness gun buyback program, held by entertainment manager Michael “Blue” Williams last weekend, removed 115 guns from New York City streets during its first event, the New York Police Department confirmed to the organization.

Following approval by the NYPD on March 25, this innovative weapons exchange took place on Saturday March 30 at the Christian Cultural Center (CCC) in East New York, Brooklyn.

In addition to the traditional trade of cash for guns, Guns 4 Greatness promised professional mentoring and tickets to popular acts such as Jay-Z and Beyoncé to participants in an attempt to appeal to young black and Latino males.

Gun buyback exceeds expectations

“Going into our first Guns 4 Greatness event last weekend in Brooklyn at the Christian Cultural Center, my honest expectations were if we could get one gun brought in we could save two lives,” Williams told theGrio over email about the event. “To have 115 guns turned in was a humbling experience, yet also inspiring, because we achieved that number with less than a week to really promote.”

According to Guns 4 Greatness, police received the following at the collection point:

  • 56 revolvers
  • 33 semi-automatics
  • 1 assault rifle
  • 9 rifles
  • 4 shotguns
  • 1 sawed-off shotgun
  • 11 others (BB guns, zip guns, starter guns, etc.)

“[We] feel that our buyback was a huge success,” Aishah White, a spokeswoman for Guns 4 Greatness, added. “The NYPD is very pleased with the turnout as well, considering many of the guns were turned in by our target demo.”

Participants received $200 for each working handgun or assault weapon, plus contact information to pursue mentoring in music or other industries.

Inspired to move ahead

“[I] am inspired at what can be accomplished at our next event in Queens with a few weeks of promotions,” Williams continued about the next Guns 4 Greatness buyback. “I have to thank Pastor A.R. Benard and the CCC family for opening up their doors. I also have to thank Ken Thompson, Londell McMillan, Gregory Thomas, Rich Buery, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and The Grio for supporting G4G.”

Williams created Guns 4 Greatness with a consortium of partners who will use their pooled resources to hold similar gun buybacks across New York City, then eventually the country.

“Moving forward the plan is to do the rest of the boroughs of [New York] and then move on to Newark, Philadelphia, Chicago and make this a nationwide program,” Williams continued in his statement.

Next steps 

Williams, who has guided the careers of superstar hip-hop acts such as Outkast, created Guns 4 Greatness to offer hope to those seeking to leave the criminal route — with an understanding of what it takes to motivate youths. To reach the young black and Latino males who are largely both the victims and perpetrators of inner city gun violence, he plans to continue using his entertainment industry connections to make an impression on this group.

Williams is also asking the public to join him in making a difference.

“I am also going to be knocking on doors and calling people for their support as mentors or financially because this is a privately funded program and we need all the help we can get. People can donate on our website:”

Police records state that approximately 7,000 weapons were removed from New York City streets between 2008 and 2011 by church-based programs, and that African-Americans made up roughly 74 percent of shooting victims in 2011.

Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.

This article has been updated.

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