Gun buyback gets 20 weapons off the streets

Posted at 9:25 AM, Nov 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-24 09:25:58-05

CINCINNATI -- A grassroots effort to curb gun violence in Cincinnati continues to have success, even as the city's shooting and homicide numbers remain high compared to last year.

Street Rescue held its second gun buyback event Monday, this one at the Brown Chapel AME Church in Walnut Hills.

The goal of the 12-month program is to get "community guns" off Cincinnati's streets. Community guns are weapons stashed illegally around the city, in public places such as parks, car tires, air-conditioning units and mailboxes; the guns belong to no specific person but are available for use by a whole group of people.

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Street Rescue is a no-questions-asked exchange, offering gift cards -- $50 and $100 to local grocery stores -- for guns.

On Monday, it brought in 20 guns.

"Actually, first thing this morning, before we even opened up, we had people lined up ready to come in and we received several weapons," said Charles Tassell, who organized Street Rescue along with Dale Mallory.

They collected seven guns at their first buyback in October at House of Hope Church on Elm Street. It's a small number, but Tassell said he believes six of them were guns hidden and shared on the street.

"The gun violence, the increases that has happened over the past 12 months, I feel that this program is very necessary," said the Rev. James Stowe, Jr., of Brown Chapel AME.

According to the latest data from the Cincinnati Police Department, shootings are up year-to-date by 32 percent, and homicides from all causes are up 8 percent. It's a trend that's carried through much of 2015.

Street Rescue has more events in the works over the next year or so.

"We are invited in by different churches, and we come around to different communities, and really we're going where people want to be participants and where people are affected by violence," Tassell said.

Next month, Street Rescue is working in partnership with a Put Down The Guns, Pick Up The Gloves boxing program.

CLICK HERE to learn more about how the program works and find out where “community guns” are hidden around Cincinnati.