Philly hosts gun buyback initiative for $100 ShopRite certificate

By6abc Digital Staff and Rebeccah Hendrickson via WPVI logo
Sunday, January 24, 2021
EMBED <>More Videos

The '2021 No Gun Campaign' kicked off Saturday. It is a year-long effort to get illegal firearms off the streets of Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The '2021 No Gun Campaign' kicked off Saturday. It is a year-long effort to get illegal firearms off the streets of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia collected a record 224 guns where neighbors were able to exchange firearms for ShopRite gift cards.

SEE ALSO: Homicides, shootings in Philadelphia already surpassing last year's record pace

Homicides in the city are currently up 10% and shootings are up 37% from this time last year.

Individuals turned in their working handguns or semi-automatic firearms. No questions asked.

"I didn't want to take that chance," said resident Bessie Wilson.

Wilson says she had a gun in the back of her closet for 15 years.

After hearing about a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed by a family member Wednesday, she wanted her gun out of the house.

"I don't want my grandkids to come in playing one day, you know, it's put away in a closet, back of the closet, but children get into everything," Wilson said.

Hundreds of people in Philadelphia did the same, turning their guns into police stationed at the Yesha Ministries and the Greater Exodus Baptist Church from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m..

"There's a difference between just asking folks to come and turn in guns, which we had done last year in our efforts, but when you have an incentive, it shows that it works," said Bilal Qayyum, the president of Father's Day Rally Committee, one of the organizers.

The non-profit Greenfield Foundation raised $10,000 to buy the gift cards.

"Now they're able to go grocery shopping. They're able to put food on the table. And we know right now, through COVID, people are struggling, so it's going a long way," said Councilwoman Cindy Bass.

Leaders called it an all hands on deck moment to fight violence. There were nearly 500 homicides in 2020, a 30-year high. Already, the first few weeks of 2021 are outpacing that.

"If you look at the statistics, a lot of these guns that are confiscated after the commission of a crime are actually apart of robberies," said City Council President Darrell Clarke. "People are breaking into homes and stealing these guns, and these guns end up committing a crime."

So many people turned in guns Saturday that the city ran out of gift cards.

A city council spokesman says anyone who didn't get one will in the next few days.