"Guns for Groceries" is coming to Lansing. It's a new plan Mayor Virg Bernero hopes will reduce gun crime, especially among young adults.
"You'd be amazed how many kids know. I knew my dad had a gun when I was little," said Virg Bernero, the Mayor of Lansing in a news conference Thursday. "I wasn't supposed to know, but I knew and I knew exactly where that gun was, and a lot of kids know."
In the mayor's initial announcement about the program he said he hoped to raise $50,000. However Thursday he publicly lowered his expectations to $25,000. He hopes to get the money through tax deductible donations to a new fund the City of Lansing is setting up. Thursday he was pleased to announce the city has already raised $7,000 from a total of three donors.
"I do not want to attend another visitation for a homicide victim in this community," said Bernero. "I do not want to visit another family member at the hospital whose loved one has been the victim of gun violence."
The program doesn't come without speculation about its effectiveness. In 2003 the University of Chicago came out with an "Evaluating Gun Policy" study that showed similar gun buyback programs delivered no measurable results. The study found that gun buybacks have little effect because "they are brief and voluntary and leave open the possibility of owners buying new guns to replace those they turn in." The study further sites that "sellers in these buyback programs have been shown to be people at low risk for criminal offending, and the guns that are turned in are often broken or quite different from those that are used in crime." (You can read more of the study at http://home.uchicago.edu/~ludwigj/papers/Brookings_Pragmatic_Gun_Chapter1.pdf)
At the press conference News 10's Brian Johnson asked the mayor if he knows of any positive studies that show his buyback program will have better results.
The Mayor responded. "Well let's create a study in Lansing," said Bernero. "Let's create a case study here and make it happen."
"This is another tool in the toolbox," said Teresa Szymanski, Lansing chief of police. "This is a wonderful opportunity to engage the community is some dialogue, gun, gun safety, and gun buy back programs."
Mayor Bernero said he believes that guns used in crimes are often stolen guns.
"I don't believe necessarily that hoodlums, quote un quote, you know crooks-- I don't necessarily believe that crooks are going to say 'Wow, I can turn in my gun and get $100 bucks," said Bernero. "And they are going to do that. What I think is we are going to get a lot of guns that are haphazardly being managed now that are hanging around we are going to get ride of those and we're going to curtail the next wave of violence."
For John Edmond, the issue is close to home. His daughter was killed two years ago in gun violence.
"If we get these guns off the street, fortunately we will be able to save someone's life," said Edmond.
The city hopes donors will continue to give so the program can start come August 1st.
If you would like to donate to the fund mail a check to the following address.
"Gun Buy-back Program"
Lansing Police Department
ATTN: Accounting Services
120 W. Michigan Ave.
Lansing, MI 48933