This weekend, police officers in Philadelphia hosted a gun turn-in event at two locations in the City of Brotherly love. Citizens were invited to come and turn in any firearms they had, no questions asked and without danger of facing prosecution. Despite setting up shop at multiple locations and publicizing the event on the radio, television and social media, the total number of weapons surrendered was… six. But the event’s organizers still said they were “pleased” with the results. (CBS Philadelphia)
Half a dozen guns were surrendered during a gun turn-in program in Philadelphia. While that number seems small, organizers are pleased.
The gun turn-in program began Saturday at locations in West Philadelphia and East Germantown.
“We’re at an epidemic stage at this point. If this is not an urgent situation now based on how many children, now it seems like it’s every week there’s another child being shot,” Bible Way Baptist Church Senior Pastor Damone Jones said.
To get a feel for what sort of weapons were turning up, check out this brief video report from CBS News channel 3 in Philly. It includes some footage of the haul.
Normally I’d be finding some wry humor in a project that only managed to get a half dozen guns of dubious quality off the street, but Philadelphia is at least trying something different here. This wasn’t a “buy back” scheme, asking owners to sell their firearms. The police made an appeal to parents of young people who they suspect might be involved in gang activity. They asked them to go search their homes (carefully) while the kids were at school or otherwise occupied to see if there were any weapons hidden around the place. And if they found any, to bring them down and hand them over.
While it obviously didn’t produce much in the way of results, when it comes to gang violence we really do have to get the families involved. And what is one of these kids going to do if they come home and find their Glock missing? I doubt they’ll be yelling down the stairs, “Mom! Have you seen my handgun?”
Still, the few firearms collected don’t look much like what’s been killing Philadelphia’s young people out in the streets. (CBS reports that this year alone, 110 children age 17 and younger have been shot in the city.) The rifle they collected looks like s small caliber, pump-action model. One of the handguns is clearly an older revolver, while gang members tend to favor semiautomatics if they can obtain one. So Saturday’s efforts probably didn’t do much to put a dent in the illegal gun supply in that city.
Still, as I mentioned above, they’re at least trying to take the important step of getting the families with teenage boys involved in finding solutions to urban gang violence. Baltimore, Maryland should adopt more of this type of approach as well. That’s particularly true when you consider that Charm City’s murder rate is massively higher than Philadelphia’s while having only one-third of their population.