40 firearms turned in during two-day collection Churches plan to continue effort

January 19, 1993|By Frank P. L. Somerville | Frank P. L. Somerville,Staff Writer

The number was not great, but the variety was.

The arsenal received anonymously in East Baltimore yesterday under the religiously inspired "Turn In The Guns" program ranged from cheap "Saturday Night Specials" and a beautifully crafted Italian pistol -- small enough to be hidden in a suit pocket -- to a heavy, 75-year-old German rifle with bayonet attached.

Counting the nine weapons turned in Sunday, yesterday's haul brought the total to 40 guns, a sharp knife in a leather case and enough ammunition for a long day of hunting or a major shoot-out.

The brand names included Colt, Smith & Wesson, Remington and Young American.

All were taken to the McKim Recreation Center at 1120 E. Baltimore St. by men and women who neither gave nor were asked their names. Employees of a security agency, hired for the purpose, received and disarmed the guns. They were turned over to the Baltimore Police Department for disposal.

A spokesman for the Stony Run Friends Meeting and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial United Methodist Church, whose congregations were the chief sponsors of the well-publicized effort to remove guns from the streets of Baltimore, said they were not disappointed with the results.

"We are encouraged," said Stony Run's Neil Saunders, standing guard temporarily over yesterday's cache of firearms in a back room of the McKim center. "We know we'll continue in some fashion or another."

He said organizers of the two-day turn-in "will be meeting in the next couple of weeks to weigh a number of different options."

The hope, he said, is that a way can be devised to permit people to dispose of guns anonymously at any time, on the spur of the moment -- "when there is an emotional need, for example."

While no one who took a gun to the McKim center was identified, a number volunteered stories about the weapons. A woman who seemed relieved to be free of a .22-caliber revolver said it had been pointed at her -- presumably by someone close to her.

An elderly couple, who also got rid of a .22-caliber revolver, said it had been acquired in Germany 48 years ago by the husband, a World War II veteran.

Every year when they went on vacation, the couple related, they would worry about someone breaking into their home, stealing the weapon and using it in a crime. Now, that worry was over.

A man who dropped off two weapons -- a .38-caliber revolver and .32-caliber revolver -- said simply that he "took them from the bad guys."

The announced time for ending the turn-in yesterday had been 9 p.m., but because of what Mr. Saunders described as "a bit of a surge of activity after dark," the deadline was extended to 11 p.m.

With one exception, the weapons were delivered to the police in a group. But yesterday afternoon, a loaded six-shooter was found to be so rusty that the employees of the Watkins Security Agency were afraid to try to disarm it. They turned it over to police immediately.

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