Gun buy-back aims to keep weapons out of criminals' hands

Rev. Melvin Girton, organizer

Local ministers are teaming up with law enforcement to get unwanted guns off the streets. They're sponsoring a gun buy-back event.

The gun buy-back program is designed to help reduce gun violence and help keep weapons out of the hands of children - as well as criminals.

Organizers believe the people participating in the gun buy-back will be those who have unwanted guns at home and want a way to get rid of them. They are also targeting families with children in the home who want to remove weapons from the household.

The goal is to cut down on the number of children injured by guns at home and reduce the number of stolen guns used in crimes.

"Could be a gun in an active crime or something like that. We are not asking where the gun came from. We're just trying to get them off the street and out of the hands of criminals," said Rev. Melvin Girton, organizer.

Girton and other ministers answered questions and addressed concerns about the gun buy-back on the Amos Brown radio show Tuesday.

"You are promoting gun buy-back to disarm people. That's crazy!" asked one person.

"We are trying to get the young people that have no business with a gun," Girton said.

According to IMPD, criminal homicides are down in 2012. There have been 47 this year, compared to 55 this time last year. But aggravated assaults are up 20 percent.

Both may or may not be related to guns, but either way, religious leaders are convinced the more random guns they collect, the better.

"If a kid gets that gun, he may play with it or shoot his own sibling," Girton said.

The buy-back event starts at noon on July 14th at the Challenge Academy School. Anyone turning in a gun must show valid identification. You will get $50 per gun turned in.

Felicia Greene, a concerned mother, believes getting guns off the street is worth every penny.

"I think they need to bring them down and get the money for them and get them out of the house and out of the way of children and people who don't know what to do with them," Greene said.

The guns will end up at Marion County Sheriff's Department headquarters, where they will be disabled and eventually destroyed, something deputies do on a regular basis.

"Don't need to be around them. They are nothing to play with," Greene said.