Gun Buyback Debate Continues As Program Begins

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

Mayor Virg Bernero supports the Second Amendment.

"I believe in the right of somebody to defend themselves," Bernero said. "I believe in the right of somebody to go and hunt, I believe in the hunting tradition. I don't believe in guns laying around, I don't believe in youngsters having guns, and I don't believe in assault weapons being around."

So, he launched a gun buyback program about a month ago called Guns For Groceries. A little over $9,000 has been raised in donations in order to give $100 Meijer gift cards to anyone who turns in a working firearm Saturday at Tabernacle of David Worship Center on W. Holmes Road.

"If we can keep guns off the streets and keep them out of the hands of criminals, we feel it's the right thing to do," said Lansing Police Chief Teresa Syzmanski.

Opponents argue criminals aren't the ones returning guns, and $100 is barely worth it for anyone.

"It doesn't get the guns out of the hands of people that want to go out and hold up stores, and things like that," said Kenneth Vaughan, who plans to protest at the buyback. "All it does is rob these honest citizens of their form of safety and self protection."

In fact, a 2003 University of Chicago study agrees. It said similar programs don't often have measurable results because those turning in guns aren't usually committing crimes, and the guns turned in are frequently broken. Bernero said he welcomes the debate.

"I think the dialogue alone will help save lives," Bernero said

Any firearm will be accepted "no questions asked," but only working firearms are eligible for the $100 gift card. Turning in an assault weapon offers an extra $50.

Make sure all guns are unloaded and sealed either in a clear plastic case or another appropriate container, and then locked in the trunk.

Lansing Police will greet people turning in firearms, assist with getting it out of the vehicle, process the information, and then hand over the gift card.

The program runs from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the parking lot of Tabernacle of David Worship Center.


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