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Advocates urge public to surrender illegal guns safely

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — After the recent rash of gun deaths involving children, anti-violence advocates are joining forces with police, City Council members and faith leaders to urge Philadelphians to search their homes for illegal guns. 

“This is a moral and spiritual issue that we have to address,” said Bilal Qayyum, president of the Father’s Day Rally Committee. The group organized a multi-pronged grassroots coalition to launch a “home gun check” campaign. 

The collective, which includes Nicetown CDC, Unity in the Community and several others, calls on parents and homeowners to search their children’s rooms, the backyard, the basement, garages and anywhere else in the home for illegal guns.

“If you happen to find a gun, turn it in — no questions asked,” said Qayyum, noting that this is not a gun buy-back effort. “We are not giving out gift certificates. We’re asking parents and individuals in this city to take responsibility.”

Guns can be dropped off at four safe locations across the city over the next two weekends. 

“I assure you that the deal is exactly what they are saying it is,” assured acting Police Commissioner Christine Coulter. “There will be no questions asked. We are not looking to take people into custody.”

Coulter said the effort uses trusted third-party community partners to collect the guns, ensuring that individuals turning them in will not face repercussions or be linked to the firearm.

City Council President Darrell Clarke said the next step is for legal gun owners to do their part as well.

“If you have a gun, lock the gun up when it’s not in use,” he said during a press conference.

Clarke said gun owners should use gun locks and safes and report firearms that are missing or stolen, or else face the consequences.

The locations, dates and times for safe firearms disposal are as follows:

Saturday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Bible Way Baptist Church, 1313 N. 52nd St., West Philadelphia

Every Murder is Real (EMIR) Healing Center, 59 E. Haines St., East Germantown

Saturday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Taylor Memorial Baptists Church, 3817 Germantown Ave., Hunting Park

Mother Bethel AME Church, 419 S. Sixth St., Society Hill

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