Citywide gun giveback campaign takes over a dozen guns off the streets

Guns collected at Taylor Memorial Baptist Church as part of a giveback event.
Photo credit Courtesy of G. Lamar Stewart
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Organizers of a home gun check and giveback campaign collected over a dozen guns on Saturday, the second day of their effort, and they are hoping to continue into the new year.

18 guns were collected, "no questions asked," at two locations, 10 guns from Taylor Memorial Baptist Church in North Philadelphia and eight guns from Mother Bethel AME Church in Society Hill. The guns were collected as part of a citywide "Gun Giveback" campaign that came on the heels of a number of gun deaths of children.

"I'm really excited that we got so many guns off the streets," said Bilal Qayyum, president of Father's Day Rally Committee, the lead organizer of the effort. "The number is triple what we received last week, but the word is getting out for parents to take responsibility."

Earlier this month, a coalition of groups led by Qayyum joined Philadelphia police and City Council in asking parents to do home gun checks, where they searched their homes for illegal guns. They then provided drop-off locations where parents and/or others could turn the guns in. Last Saturday, the effort got a half dozen guns off the streets—two were fully loaded. On the second day, the guns included a couple of high-powered weapons.

"There was one that was semi-automatic, there was then a long rifle and then a large number of handheld guns," recalled G. Lamar Stewart, senior pastor at Taylor Memorial Baptist Church and activist.

"Is this the ultimate solution, absolutely not," he said, "but this is definitely a good way for faith-based institutions to open up their buildings and facilities beyond just Sunday morning."

Organizers said police picked up the guns and will run checks on them before destroying the weapons. More gun give-back efforts are being planned for next year.