Decatur, Ill. (WCIA) —
“I think its a good deal. I mean its real good. Get some of the guns out of the community,” Jim Riley, who sold his gun back to police, said.
That’s exactly what happened in one city today, but the event didn’t last as long as they intended. Decatur police have 200 more guns than they did this morning.
They collected them during a gun buy back event this afternoon. This was part of a joint-effort event between police and other community leaders. Their goal is to get weapons off the streets.
The event started at 2:00 in the afternoon, but people were lined up well before that. There were so many people, police had to turn people away.
“Ultimately sell their guns, and put those guns back into the hands of the police. You know, a lot of young people break into homes and buy, or purchase, or steal guns from individuals and so this eliminates that particular process,” Reverend Courtney Carson said.
Guns in hand, a long line wrapped around a church in Decatur. All for people to sell their guns to police.
“I’ve had these guns in my closet for several years, and I haven’t used them, and they’re offering a real good price, so I thought I just as well sell them,” Riley said.
Decatur police hope this is a stepping stone to getting guns off the street. The police and other city leaders held a forum last month discussing ways to end gun violence. They say this is a step in the right direction.
“That all these people have came together. I wasn’t expecting this many people, but its a blessing. And I just hope it doesn’t end today. I hope that this day of peace continues throughout the year,” Pastor Elder Carol Spates said.
While police know most people involved in gun violence may not have been at the event, they say this helps get guns off the streets, because a lot of guns involved in gun violence, are stolen from homes.
“Those guns could’ve easily ended up on the street, using a homicide or robbery so I would say this is a success,” Jim Getz, Decatur Police Chief, said.
Some people selling their guns back say while its a good thought and they hope it works, they don’t think this will stop gun violence.
“I think the bad guys that’s breaking the law, not going to bring their guns up here, but that’s just my opinion,” Riley said.
Police and other organizers are hopeful. They say its a stepping stone.
“These people that are here today will reach out to some of those people in the gangs and say hey this was a really cool day and a day of peace. And we took a lot of guns off the street,” Chief Getz said.
The gun buy back was supposed to last four hours. Police had to send people away after they spent $40,000 dollars buying back guns. They bought over 250 guns.
There have been at least 14 shootings in Decatur so far this year, with eight in February alone. One of those was deadly. Last year there were nearly 80 shootings. 12 were deadly.