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Some of the guns collected for disposal at previous gun buybacks in January and February. Photo courtesy: Philadelphia City Council.
Some of the guns collected for disposal at previous gun buybacks in January and February. Photo courtesy: Philadelphia City Council.

Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro to sponsor latest Philly gun buyback set for May 22

The two previous buyback events in January and February of 2021 got more than 400 guns off the street. It’s now back to trade more for groceries.

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In a Zoom meeting held on Thursday, May 20, Philadelphia City Council President Clarke remarked at what he felt was a “relatively successful” effort to get guns off the streets of Philadelphia that could eventually be used in a homicide.

“It only takes one bullet from one gun to take a life,” said Clarke.

He was talking about gun buybacks, which have been held on certain weekends throughout the past year and a half for Philadelphians to come and turn in weapons for disposal, no questions asked.

In 2020, the effort netted about 100 guns over several weekends. This year, the two previous buyback events in January and February came with the incentive of $100 ShopRite gift cards for each gun turned in. The result was more than 400 guns turned in over two days.

Bilal Qayyum, president and executive director of the Father’s Day Rally Committee — a key partner in the buyback events — said on the Zoom call that so many arms were turned in that the gift cards ran out.

Now, thanks to that success, two more gun buybacks will be held this weekend, on May 22, 2021.

Both will be held in Kensington from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the West Kensington Ministry at 2140 N. Hancock Street, and the Bethel Temple Community Bible Church at 228 East Allegheny Ave.

In addition to $100 ShopRite gift cards, they will also be provided for the nearby Cousin’s Supermarkets.

“This gun buyback is just one tool in the tool chest,” said Qayyum.

The “chest” in this case, is the box with all possible ways to combat gun violence in the city. Back in April, City Council unveiled its Violence Prevention and Opportunity Agenda including other “tools.”

For Councilmember María Quiñones-Sánchez, whose district both encompasses most parts of Kensington, all tools in that chest must be “sharpened” to fight both Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis, and Kensington’s opioid epidemic.

In regards to the upcoming gun buybacks on May 22, Quiñones-Sánchez called on the families in her district to dispose of unwanted guns in their household if they have any.

“Get rid of that gun,” she said. “These are safe spaces for you to come, no questions asked.”

Joining the councilmembers and Qayyum on the call was also Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose office is sponsoring this third gun buyback event. Shapiro highlighted both the effectiveness of the gun buybacks to get weapons off the street, and also build bridges of trust in the community.

Given the past year of isolation and violence, many of those bridges need to be completely rebuilt.

“Law enforcement isn’t the only solution. We must listen in to the community,” said Shapiro. “We do not need to accept this violence as a new reality.”

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