Over 90 firearms were collected Saturday during a gun buyback program event at the Simon Recreation Center in West Oak Lane, the first in Northwest Philadelphia since 2011.
Organized by City Council members Cindy Bass and Cherelle Parker along with he 14th and 35th Police Districts, the program is anonymous, with no questions asked. In exchange for surrendering a firearm, gift cards donated by the Fresh Grocer and ShopRite are given out in the amounts of $50 for a handgun and $100 for a rifle or shotgun.
As citizens dropped off unwanted guns at the recreation center officers from the police department’s evidence unit carefully inspected each firearm and outfitted them with gun locks, which were also being given out at the event. They are then cataloged and will eventually be melted down in the city’s ongoing effort to reduce gun violence.
“What we’ve been encountering, unfortunately, we’ve been having young ones getting access to guns,” Philadelphia Police inspector Anthony Washington said. “Whether they’re guns that are unattended and they’re shooting themselves, shooting other people, hurting or killing themselves. We’ve also had people going to houses and committing burglaries.”
The program also received donations from Albert Einstein Medical Center and the Police Advisory Council.
“We ask for citizens to turn in any guns that they’re not using, of course, or that are just sitting there in the house, in an anonymous manner — we don’t ask them any names, or addresses, or anything of that nature and we, in turn, give them a gift card,” said Washington.
“It’s important to get these guns locks to put in these guns to make sure they don’t misfire,” Washington said, “or someone grabs — a child possibly — and shoots themselves or someone else.”