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Local Church Holds Annual Gun Buyback

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Evening the odds. On the chance that fewer guns mean fewer shootings, a Baltimore church is paying people to turn in their guns.

Pat Warren reports this one small effort could be saving lives.

North Gilmor Street is home to Elizabeth Carter. In the 30 years she’s lived here, she’s seen the neighborhood change. In recent years, she’s come to feel her street is much safer, thanks in part to the church next door.

“I think that’s a wonderful thing that Father Damien is doing,” Carter said.

It’s gun turn-in day at St. Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church. The church offers rewards of up to $100 for weapons, no questions asked.

“That was a call about a gun. She had the gun. She was a little leery about how she should get it here,” said Monsignor Damien Nalepa, St. Gregory the Great.

The payments are made for guns that are in working condition.

“We thought now, appropriately with the violence and the disregard for human life, this would be the appropriate time,” Monsignor Nalepa said.

At her inauguration this week, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake emphasized the need for just this kind of community involvement.

“Everyone has responsibilities in the home, at church, in our neighborhoods,” she said.

North Gilmor and St. Gregory take those responsibilities seriously.

“We have a lot of homeowners that have moved back into the neighborhood, and that’s what helps build up the neighborhood and keep down the crime in the area,” Nalepa said.

St. Gregory the Great has been buying guns for three years.

“We’ve collected over 200 guns in that period of time, and again police have verified these were some very serious weapons that could be used for dangerous crimes,” Nalepa said.

Father Damien says those who missed Saturday’s deadline may still call the church and arrange to bring the guns in.

“We have a lot of guns out on the street in hands they should not be in,” Carter said.

The program is funded by the Catholic Review, the Archdiocese newspaper.

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