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Buy-back takes hundreds of guns off the streets

CHICAGO -- Chicago police and the community are teaming up in their ongoing efforts to stop violence.

St. Sabina Church hosted a gun collection event Saturday, where folks had the opportunity to swap their weapons for gift cards worth up to $100.

Police say the gun buy-back event helped take hundreds of guns off the streets. Chicago's police superintendent says as the city has surpassed 1,000 shootings this year; an event like this is a crucial tool in the battle against gun violence.

Guns of all shapes and sizes -- more than 250 of them -- were turned in to Chicago police. Eric Washington, Deputy Chief of the Community Policing Program, says the program could help save lives.

“We've gotten a number of different types of long guns, shotguns, rifles, hand guns .38s, .22s, a wide variety of weapons were brought in today," Washington said. "If that weapon is in a home and it's burglarized, it's one of the first things going out. Like I said, it's going to end up back on the street in somebody else’s hands, and potentially end up killing some kid -- a resident of the city of Chicago."

That's exactly why South Side resident Pam Carpenter came to St. Sabina Catholic Church today.

"I'm here turning in a rifle. Just to get it out of the house. I have a young nephew that we don't want to be around it," Carpenter said.

“The thing about a gun, it's your constitutional right to have it, but the ones that shouldn't have it should be in this program and turned in,” said Sal Dandrea, an NRA member who lives in Orland Park. Dandrea said he didn't want an old family heirloom to get stolen, so he brought it in.

“I brought a pistol butt, I felt it was better that it be destroyed,” Dandrea said.

People were given one $100 gift cards for their guns -- no questions asked.

Father Michael Pfleger, the pastor at Saint Sabina, has been working for years to help curtail violence in the city.

He expressed disappointment and outrage at crime statistics that show (so far this year) Chicago has had more people shot than New York and Los Angeles combined.

“We've got to deal in America with this love affair of guns. Somehow we think guns make us safer, when every statistic is saying it doesn't," said Fr. Pfleger. “We've had 1,030 people shot in Chicago, but this is absolutely outrageous."

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says he knows many of the people who would come to a gun buy-back event aren't the ones causing problems. But he says he has a message for the criminals, too.

“To those individuals, either turn your lives around or we're going to bring everything we have at our disposal to come at 'em,” he said.