Gun Buy Back Operation to be held at three local churches

caines | 1/24/2013, 4:30 a.m.

Rewards are given in exchange for assault weapons

For the guns that were used to take lives, to commit crimes and that are simply out of place. These fire arms may as well be given back and no longer play a part in mischievous activity. In efforts to reduce gun violence and unnecessary injuries to Miami citizens, local churches have partnered with the City of Miamis Mayor Tomas Regalado and the Miami Police Department for their first official Gun Buy Back Operation of the year, an event in which anyone will be able to turn in weapons without any questions asked. In addition, those who turn in guns will be given Winn-Dixie and Walmart gift cards or Miami Heat basketball game tickets. The more dangerous the weapon, the higher the value of the reward, which includes two 100-level premium seat Miami Heat tickets that are good for weekend games in the month of March, according to Pat Santangelo. The operation started on Jan. 19 at Jordan Grove Baptist Church located at 5946 NW 12th Ave., and will continue Jan. 26 in Overtown at St. John Baptist Church located at 1328 NW 3rd Ave. The last date of the operation will be Feb. 2 at San Juan Bosco Church located at 1301 W. Flagler St.

Churches Against Gun Violence

Rev. Jerome Starling, an associate pastor at Jordan Grove and founder/CEO of the Rickia Isaac Foundation, travels all around the country to speak against gun violence, since his niece Rickia Isaac, who was 5 years old, was killed by a stray bullet on Jan. 20, 1997, after leaving a Martin Luther King Parade with her babysitter. So many young kids, like Rickia Isaac were shot and killed by stray bullets, Starling said. I want them to turn in their guns because if they turn in their guns, they may save a life. Starling and Rev. Douglas Cook, pastor of Jordan Grove, have held funerals for a lot of victims of gun violence that is why they selected the church as a location for the gun buy back, according to Starling. Also, people dont have to worry about getting in trouble or being questioned about their guns at the gun buy back. The gun buy back is held at three churches because people in the community look at the churches as safe havens, according to Starling. Starling said this the 4th gun buy back that he has been apart of and in the past the others were very successful, with collections of about 100+ guns. The guns that are turned in are destroyed. Starling said he has made an effort to reach out to the Black community by passing out over 400 flyers and advertising on Hot 105 and 99 Jamz radio stations. [Blacks] must understand if we dont stop killing one another there wont be anymore [Blacks], he said. We have stayed silent when it comes to us killing one another instead of us doing something about it. But we must do something about it. By Malika A. Wrightmwright@miamitimesonline.com