Chicago police hold gun buyback event at St. Sabina Church on Saturday

Father Pfleger offers $100 cash bonus for assault weapons

Sarah Schulte Image
Sunday, June 12, 2022
More than 400 guns traded for cash at gun buyback event
Father Pfleger said 408 firearms were turned in and 13 assault weapons.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With guns taking center stage lately, the Chicago Police Department held yet another gun buyback program this weekend.

"It is perhaps one of the greatest opportunities we give people to do the right thing," said Glenn Brooks, director of CPD's office of community policing.

Doing the right thing means $100 for real firearms and $10 for BB guns or replicas. The event took place at St. Sabina Church. Father Michael Pfleger even offered to sweeten the pot.

"We as a church want to give $100 extra cash to anybody who turns in an assault weapon," Pfleger said.

Pfleger said he hoped inflation would be an incentive for people to want cash. He was the first in Chicago to host a gun buyback event in 2005.

The Chicago Police Department followed a couple years later, and has since hosted several separate events.

But as the ABC-7 I-Team recently reported, several weapons taken off the streets during CPD firearm turn-ins are old, rusty or damaged.

"I would rather take an antique and save someone's life than not any at all," Brooks said.

Besides antiques, some of the guns are fakes. Through records obtained by the Freedom of Information Act, the I-Team reports that in 2021, 20% of the guns received at department turn-in events were replicas. Pfleger said at his events, those guns are not accepted.

"We wouldn't take a gun that is unworkable," Pfleger said.

Critics says gun buyback programs don't do much to curb crime because criminals are usually not the ones turning their guns in. But police and Pfleger argue getting a workable gun off the street can save a life in more ways than one.

"We had a young person bring an assault weapon who lives two blocks from here, and he said, 'I just need help,'" Pfleger said.

Saturday's buyback event at St. Sabina will took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Pfleger said 408 firearms were turned in and 13 assault weapons.

As always, no questions are asked when someone turns in a gun.