Dozens of residents lined up inside the playground at the Lonnie Young Recreation Center in Germantown over the weekend to trade in their guns for gift cards.
Lela Florence heard the “Goods for Guns” event advertised on the radio and decided to drop by with her husband’s revolver, which she had stowed away in her home for nearly two decades.
“I got small grandkids running around now and I don’t trust them,” she said after grabbing her $100 gift card courtesy of Brown’s ShopRite. “This way, I’ll feel safe.”
That’s what the event is all about, said Raymond Jones, executive director of Philadelphia Safety Net, which organized the exchange.
“We’re not in the policing business,” he said.
Jones’s organization chose Lonnie Young in reaction to the neighborhood’s problems with gun violence.
Vincent Price with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said there’s been an “incredible uptick” in gun violence in Northwest Philadelphia overall during the past year or so.
“There’s been a noticeable, measurable amount of young people committing violent acts with guns and at younger ages,” said Price, director of Community Outreach and Government Relations.
By 11 a.m. Saturday, officers with the 14th Police District estimated that they’d collected more than 100 firearms. Jones expected to collect 1,000 from Lonnie Young and the Francis Myers Recreation Center in Kingsessing which also participated in the program.
Since launching in 2008, Philadelphia Safety Net has collected more than 5,000 firearms. The guns are melted down and used to help create bullet-proof vests, Jones said.