A congregation in Chicago, Illinois, has sought to combat gun violence in the city through a $25,000 firearms buyback program centered on young adults and youth.
The Faith Community of Saint Sabina began the buyback event on Monday and plans to continue the event until they have fully spent the $25,000 allotted for the program.
The Rev. Michael L. Pfleger of Saint Sabina Church provided The Christian Post with more information on the program, which is centered on getting guns out of the hands of youth.
The event allows individuals 25 years old and younger to anonymously sell their guns to the church from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Listed prices for working firearms given to the church include $100 for rifles, $200 for modern rifles, what some call "assault weapons," and $20 for high-capacity magazines.
“We are continuing to try many things to stop this senseless killing,” said Pfleger, who listed other events geared toward this effort, including weekly peace walks and block parties. “This is just one more application.”
For the first two days of their buyback program, according to Pfleger, the church acquired 123 handguns, 31 rifles, and one assault weapon, with the pastor adding that they “were able to meet and speak to many young brothers to help turn their lives around.”
Over the July 4 weekend, Chicago saw its "deadliest and most violent weekend," with 104 people being shot and 19 of them killed. Among the wounded were 13 children, The Chicago Sun Times reported.
According to the Chicago Tribune, 2,021 people had been victims of shootings by July 7, which was 164 more than all of 2020.
The high number of shootings and murders in Chicago has led many to refer to the city by using the pejorative nickname “Chiraq,” alluding to the idea that some parts of Chicago are more violent than war-torn countries like Iraq.
Last weekend, there were 70 shooting victims in the city, 12 of whom have died from their wounds.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown has blamed the spike in crime on the courts releasing suspects instead of prosecuting them.
"We are arresting violent offenders, the courts are releasing these people back into the community," said Brown, as reported by ABC News' Chicago affiliate.
"My question to you is, what the courts can do different[ly] rather than release violent people back to these communities to create an environment of lawlessness."
Last week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, disagreed, contending at a press conference that while she welcomed increased federal aid in response, “we cannot arrest our way out of this problem.”
“Fundamentally, if you look at the West Side and you look at the problems, the opioid addiction that is really harming so many individuals, families and communities, the investments we have to make in human capital and the investments we have to make in infrastructure, those are why I spend so much time on the West Side,” said Lightfoot, as reported by NBC Chicago.
“If we can get it right [on the west side], with the mix of resources and investments and capacity building in neighborhoods, empowering residents to be able to hold the territory under their feet, with our help and our support not just in the short-term but in the long-term, that’s really what the investments have to be about, and I’m totally committed to that.”