People flood Fairmount church for gun buy-back program

CINCINNATI - A line wound out the door at the President Drive Church of Christ in South Fairmount Tuesday as members of Project Nehemiah hosted a gun buy-back program.

Project Nehemiah is a faith-based community organization.

Project Nehemiah was prepared to buy-back 60 guns through the event.

By 12:30 p.m., organizers ran out of gift cards to Target, Walmart, Meijer, and Kroger they were giving in exchange, no questions asked, for the guns. Doors to the church opened at 11 a.m.

"Nobody anticipated this huge response," said Cincinnati City Councilman Cecil Thomas.

Pastor Ennis Tate with Project Nehemiah purchased $3,000 in additional gift cards out of the church's budget to keep the buy-back program open until 2 p.m.

"If we can save one life, if we can stop one act of violence, if we can get a gun out of one person's hands, we have made progress in the fight to end violence in our communities," said Tate before the church opened its doors.

Those that didn't receive a gift card received a rain check that they will be able to collect at the next buy back.

145 guns were collected and are now in the hands of the Cincinnati Police Department. Their serial numbers will be run to see if any of them have been used in the commission of a crime. From there, they will be destroyed.

One of the many people at today's buy back was Bruce Phillips of Mount Airy. Phillips was getting rid of a .22 caliber pistol.

"Had it for years. It was just laying around collecting dust. So I figured I'd go ahead and turn it in," said Phillips.

The buy back event was scheduled on the 83rd birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Two events are planned for Feb. 12, the anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, and for March 29, Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Christ.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2012, the gun buy back in East Price Hill netted 50 guns.

Donations of cash or gift cards are being accepted by Project Nehemiah's Ceasefire program.

Call 513-569-5664 or send checks payable to Project Nehemiah c/o Gifts for Guns initiative, 430 Forest Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45229.

9 On Your Side reporter Mario Ramirez contributed to this report

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