Mom, grandma, uncle, dad, give us your guns and we’ll give you groceries.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson (D) is initiating a new gun buyback program in reaction to the rising crime in her city by offering to give people groceries in exchange for their firearms.
St. Louis is ending 2017 with the highest number of homicides the city has experienced since 1995. Now, Krewson and members of her administration are calling on residents of the city to turn in any illegal guns they or their family members might possess in an anonymous program that will compensate them with gift cards to area businesses, St. Louis American reports.
This year, Krewson said, “The police department has taken over 2000 guns off the street. That’s not nearly enough.”
Krewson said though police have been focusing on preventive measures for gun violence, the city cannot “arrest our way out of this situation.” She suggested part of the solution would be the expansion of job programs through the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE), but removing guns that are stolen from cars and gun shops from the streets is another way.
“If you’re a mom, a dad, a brother or sister, a pastor, a teacher, and you have information, or if you’re worried about a gun that may be in your house, please come forward,” Krewson said. “You can come forward completely anonymously and contact Crimestoppers, or you can contact a trusted social service agency.”
Once the guns are repossessed, police will run them to check whether they have been involved in a crime, but those turning in a gun are not required to identify themselves.
Experts have questioned the effectiveness of gun buyback programs as a measure to prevent violence, especially compared to other gun control measures like stricter background checks. Unlike many others, though, St. Louis’ program will focus on illegally possessed guns rather than those made illegal by recent changes or simply aiming to reduce overall gun possession.
Recently appointed Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards asked the public to come forward if they have witnessed or been the victim of a crime. He said he is not expecting many criminals to turn in their own guns, but hopes their family members will.
“My message is simple: Mom, Grandma, Uncle, Dad, give us the guns,” Edwards said. “Give us the guns, because that same gun that is in your house may be a weapon used to hurt someone very badly.”
Edwards also called on police chiefs in nearby municipalities, including East St. Louis, to participate in regional solutions to gun violence.
The last time St. Louis attempted a gun buyback was nearly a decade ago.
“We think it is time to do that again, and we are really very hopeful that all of you will work with us in order to try to take additional guns off the street,” Krewson said.
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