City Officials have collected 519 guns so far this year, but not from a sting or a raid. All of these guns were offered voluntarily in exchange for $200 grocery vouchers at Fresh Grocer and tickets to a 76ers game.
Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., and other city officials have held two events this year, calling the program “Guns for Groceries,” at which Philadelphia residents could turn in firearms in exchange for groceries, no questions asked. There couldn’t be a better way to get guns out of homes and off streets – especially for people who have guns in their possession, do not want them and do not know what to do with them.
It is an excellent chance for citizens to help reduce the gun violence in their city.
The first “Guns for Groceries” event was held in January in North Philadelphia. Fattah joined Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown in what police officials called, “One of the largest single-day gun buybacks ever,” according to a press release.
Fattah, Brown and state Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Phila., organized a second event held in February in West Philadelphia.
“This program proved to be successful in North Philadelphia and I am excited that we can bring it to West Philadelphia,” Brown said in a press release. At this event, participants received grocery vouchers and tickets to a 76ers game.
Philadelphia is plagued by homicides, many of which are committed with guns. The Safer Streets program and the Philadelphia Police do their best to reduce violence in the city, but it is obvious that these efforts are not enough. Groceries for Guns and a new tip line called the Illegal Guns Hotline both reach out to the community to reduce gun violence.
By asking citizens to invest in their neighborhoods, officials are not carrying the burden to reduce violence all by themselves.
In February, Fattah and Hughes launched the Illegal Guns Hotline through the Citizens Crime Commission of Delaware Valley. There are $1,000 rewards for tips that lead to the seizure of guns and the arrest of their owners.
Fattah stated in a press release that Philadelphians support a gun-safe Philadelphia and are ready to step up. “We know this is going to work,” he said. “If rewards didn’t work, [the CCC] would be out of business. …We are trying to get in front of the body bags.”
It is obvious that the citizens of Philadelphia are ready for a change. The trade-in programs and the tip line give citizens a chance to help. It is a brilliant strategy to reduce gun violence and make members of the community
work toward the solution.
A press release said Fattah “will join with other public officials to sponsor monthly gun-surrender initiative in different initiatives.”
Of all the strategies to get guns off the street, this one makes the most sense, with $200 to buy groceries from Fresh Grocer and, in some instances, entertainment tickets – way better than a gun.
Parades, rallies, petitions and citizens’ groups are proof that Philadelphians want guns off the street. Gun-surrender initiatives and the tip line give Philadelphians a chance to accomplish this task.
Carolyn Steeves can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.