Turn-in program aims to get guns off streets

June 23, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Police departments offered cash or gift cards for the weapons.

It follows an increase in deadly gun violence in Chicago in recent weeks. Friday night, a 14-year-old boy was shot and killed.

Saturday's gun buy-back or turn-in program allowed people to get weapons out of their homes, no questions asked.

Although some questioned the effort, St. Sabina was just one of 23 churches citywide where anyone handing over a firearm got a $100 gift card. For those turning in bb guns or replicas, $10 cards were issued

"We got some tech 9s, we have some assault, a whole combination of really bad guns off the street," said Father Michael Pfleger. "So to those that say it ain't doing no good, my question is 'you're doing what?' "

A Vietnam-era machine gun was among the more than 5,500 weapons collected by Chicago police during the city's annual buy-back program.

Because the program is anonymous, we'll never know who owned some of the weapons recovered this weekend. But that hardly matters to police superintendent Garry McCarthy who's just happy to have them off the streets.

"We're really up against an overwhelming ocean of firearms," McCarthy said. "No doubt, this stuff contributes to preventing violence from happening in our streets."

The buy-back program has often been criticized for not taking the right kind of weapons off the streets. It also comes at a time when violent crime in Chicago appears to be on the rise.

On Friday night, 14-year-old Antonio Davis was shot and killed during an apparent drive-by on the 700 block of West 70th Street. This was just one of at least 10 separate shootings that happened during the overnight hours.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and his supporters were in Riverdale to put pressure on Chuck's Gun Store for a second weekend.

"Seven thousand guns come from three stores, half of them come from one shop," Jackson said. "This is the No. 1 purveyor of the gun flow in the area."

Jackson's group we're met by hecklers and proponents of the Second Amendment.

"Chuck sells legal handguns," said Pastor Anthony Williams. "We've got to stop the sale of illegal handguns in our community."

"The problem is we're not doing what we're supposed to do," said Karen Howard-Sommerfield of Black Women for Economic Parity. "Chuck has nothing to do with that and Jess Jackson knows that."

But for 80-year-old Bart Shelton, whose son was recently shot to death, the message is clear.

"Whoever is doing the killings, there's another way," he said.

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