The alarming levels of insecurity in the city of Brotherly Love have led authorities to work together with anti-violence activists to implement a gun turn-in program to minimize street violence.
The initiative is asking parents to hand over weapons at four locations in the city.
“We’re calling on parents to do room checks of your house, and if there are any guns that you find, you can turn those guns in to police — no questions asked,” said Bilal Qayyum, president of the Father’s Day Rally Committee.
The gun turn-in program began on Saturday and its next round will take place on Saturday 14 December from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The places available for the handing over of guns are: Taylor Memorial Baptist Church 3817 Germantown Ave.Philadelphia, PA 19140 and Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church419 S. 6th St.Philadelphia, PA 19147.
Activists have called on the community to join this initiative that can make a big difference in reducing crime in the city.
“We will continue to do what we have to do in Council to deal with the problems associated with too many guns on our streets,” Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke said in a statement.
And he added, “But we cannot do this alone and neither can the police. We need citizens to do their part and exercise personal responsibility. If you know there is a gun in your residence and it has no legal purpose, take the gun and safely dispose of it at one of the locations we’re announcing today.”
According to Police Commissioner Christine M. Coulter , the people who turn in weapons will not face prosecution and identification will not be required, thus guaranteeing the anonymity of the participants. Police, she added, are “not looking to take people into custody” as part of the initiative.
The authorities hope that this program will achieve a significant reduction in weapons and thus a decrease in the current epidemic levels of violence.
“That one gun, or two guns, or five guns, or 20 guns will all be ones that we now know are not going to be used against our children, [or] used by our young people to settle disputes,” Coulter said.
To date in 2019, more than 1,350 people have been shot in Philadelphia’s ongoing gun violence epidemic — 108 of whom were under 18. The number of children under the age of 18 shot in Philadelphia has been increasing in recent years, making up one out of every 12 shooting victims in 2018. On Wednesday night, a 7-year-old boy and a 24-year-old woman were shot while sitting in a vehicle in West Philadelphia, and then a 15-year-old girl was wounded in a West Philadelphia shooting last Thursday.