Philly leaders ask parents to check their kids’ rooms for guns

Philadelphia officials and activists are asking parents to do a room check in their homes and turn in any guns they find. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia officials and activists are asking parents to do a room check in their homes and turn in any guns they find. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

After more young people have been killed or injured by guns in 2019, City Council, the police commissioner and others are urging parents to search their children’s rooms for weapons. And if they find anything, four churches will be open for gun turn-in programs the next two Saturdays.

It’s a new twist on an old tactic to get guns off of Philadelphia streets.

“We’re calling for parents to do room checks, of your house and if there are any guns you find you can turn those guns into police no questions asked,” said Bilal Qayyum of the Father’s Day Rally Committee.

Activist Bilal Qayyum joins Police Commissioner Christine Coulter and council people toppled with residents to turn in firearms or lock up their guns. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Acting Police Commissioner Christine Coulter says any gun turned in is a killing machine stopped.

“If we get one turn-in from a gun buyback, odds are that gun will never be used in violence,” she said. She says removing weapons will prevent young people from settling disputes with a gun.

City Council President Darrell Clarke says they turned to churches to host the turn-in events to help parents feel comfortable that getting rid of a gun won’t hurt them or their family.

Council President Darryl Clarke makes a plea to residents to lock their guns. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“A lot of parents don’t want to turn in a gun that would put their particular child for some possible prosecution so we structured the program to allow that parent to turn the gun into a third party,” he said.

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson says if parents own guns, they need to secure them with a trigger lock or lockbox.

Acting Police Commissioner Christine Coulter and council people plead with residents to turn in firearms or lock up their guns. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

For parents uncomfortable searching a kid’s room, he has this message: “We’re their parent, and we have to step up to that plate even when it is difficult,” Johnson said.

Unlike some past weapon turn-in programs, those bringing guns to these events will not get money, gift cards or other incentives. Those behind the effort say they believe that the need to cut down on gun violence is enough of an incentive.

The turn-in dates and locations are:

  • Saturday December 7 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Bible Way Baptist Church
1323 N. 52nd St.
Philadelphia, Pa. 19131

EMIR Healing Center
59 E. Haines St.
Philadelphia, Pa. 19144

  • Saturday December 14 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Taylor Memorial Baptist Church
3817 Germantown Ave.
Philadelphia, Pa. 19140

Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church
419 S. 6th Street
Philadelphia, Pa. 19147

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal