Vice President Kamala Harris joined Migos rapper Quavo on Tuesday at a one-day summit on gun violence as the Atlanta hip hop star marked what would have been his nephew Takeoff’s 30th birthday.

The death of Takeoff, a fellow Migos rapper who was shot and killed in Houston in 2022, has inspired his uncle and their family to start the Rocket Foundation to work to help funnel money to organizations on the ground already working to decrease community violence.

What You Need To Know

  • Migos rapper Quavo is holding a gun violence summit in Atlanta on what would have been his nephew Takeoff's 30th birthday

  • Quavo was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris in a fireside chat during the one-day summit at the Carter Center in Atlanta

  • Police say Takeoff was an innocent bystander who was shot outside a Houston bowling alley after a disagreement over a lucrative dice game

  • Takeoff's death was among a string of fatal shootings in recent years that involved hip-hop stars such as Nipsey Hussle, Pop Smoke, PnB Rock and Young Dolph

“We want to make sure that we get these organizations that want to do something about it funded,” Quavo said. “In music we say 'the plug.' So I just want to be the plug to the community and help change.”

Harris praised the Grammy-nominated rapper for his work to combat gun violence, a policy area she has been tasked by President Joe Biden with taking point on as Congress has largely failed to pass gun control legislation and the Supreme Court has rolled back federal and state regulations. 

“That you have chosen to use your celebrity, the gift that you have as an artist, to talk about and actually work on with action this issue is really extraordinary,” Harris said. “You are an incredible leader and a national leader on this, and I thank you for that.”

Harris went on to slam Congress for failing to act on gun control proposals, saying that the Second Amendment and gun regulations are not incompatible.

“Gun violence in America is the number one killer of the children of America. Not car accidents, not cancer. Gun violence. One in five Americans has a family member that was killed by gun violence,” Harris said. “I'm in favor of the Second Amendment. I also believe there is no reason why we have assault weapons on the streets of America. They are weapons of war. We need an assault weapons ban.”

“I'm in favor of the Second Amendment and we need universal background checks. I'm in favor of the Second Amendment and we need red flag laws. And we need the people in the United States Congress to have the courage to stand up to the gun lobbyists and take action around what is just reasonable,” Harris continued.

Last year, 18,854 people were killed by guns in the U.S., according to the Gun Violence Archive. That number doesn’t include suicides with a firearm for which reliable data is not yet available, though which have grown steadily in the last decade from 21,000 in 2014 to 27,000 in 2022. So far in 2024, over 7,700 people have been shot and killed, not including suicides, according to data from the nonprofit group.

“Please pass the word there's a crisis line that we set up: 988 And here's the thing to let people know about that. You can be anonymous, you can text it, you can call it,” Harris said. “Sometimes it's just about creating safe places for people to talk, just to be able to talk. And so 988 is something that we should get the word out.”

Last year, Quavo attended the Congressional Black Caucus legislative conference where he met with political figures including Harris and Greg Jackson, who is now the deputy director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention after his stint with the Community Justice Action Fund.

For Quavo, it's been a rough road since Takeoff's untimely death in 2022. But many of his family members — including his nephew's mother — often encourage him to keep pushing forward.

"It's super hard every day. I'm still crying. I'm still grieving. I'm still mourning," Quavo told the Associated Press.

"Just to look behind me and see that I got the VP and guys like Greg Jackson and other survivors that actually fell victim to the same thing, I know that I'm not alone," Quavo continued. "This is my second calling. This is very personal to me. That's what makes my drive and motivation to go even harder."

Police say Takeoff was an innocent bystander who was shot outside a Houston bowling alley after a disagreement over a lucrative dice game. Takeoff's death was among a string of fatal shootings in recent years that involved hip-hop stars such as Nipsey Hussle, Pop Smoke, PnB Rock and Young Dolph.

Quavo calls the foundation and summit a "certified movement." Earlier this year, he and the foundation created the Sparks Grant program, which supports organizations working to minimize community violence.

The program will award $100,000 in grants to Atlanta-focused organizations.

"I feel like a lot of people just announce foundations and keep it moving for nonprofit purposes or even financial issues," he said. "But I'm on the ground. I'm actually working. We're getting things done. We're getting results. We're raising real money. We're going down into the real communities where the problem has been an issue."

Quavo's discussion with Harris touched on the impact that community violence intervention can make and the importance of youth support systems in decreasing gun violence, as well as a heavy focus on the mental health impacts of gun violence.

“Gun violence in the neighborhood, in the community, without any question results in trauma and just think about trauma as being an invisible wound but a wound nonetheless,” Harris said during their discussion. “We got to put the resources into [it] and the thing that we know is we need to have culturally competent mental health care providers.”

Harris noted that the administration has helped place 300 mental health counselors in Georgia public schools through funds made available through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a 2022 law that invested in the nation’s mental health system and made some changes to gun laws. Passed by a bipartisan majority in Congress, the act was the first major piece of federal gun legislation in nearly 30 years.

Quavo hopes the summit can lead to more partnerships between the Rocket Foundation and the White House. He's on a mission to ensure his voice is heard and honor his nephew's legacy.

"It hits hard when it hits home," he said. "We're trying to avoid that. Just because it's next door, you don't close your door. You can open the door and help your neighborhood. It's joining hands with the world and making sure this awareness is on a national billboard. That's my platform."