11 guns turned in citywide

January 16, 1994|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writer

Baltimore's citywide "Turn In Your Gun" effort produced a disappointing 11 weapons yesterday. Nevertheless, clergy members and anti-gun advocates pledged their continuing commitment to stem the tide of violence that produced a record number of homicides in the city last year.

The Rev. Douglas Sands, wearing a "Love or Perish" sweat shirt at police headquarters, where the surrendered weapons were given to authorities, said no one stopped by his church -- one of 20 places of worship participating. He is minister at the Martin Luther King Memorial Church in the 5100 block of Windsor Mill Road in Forest Park.

A similar campaign last year tied to commemoration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday produced only nine weapons.

And then, last April, related city groups conducted another campaign that produced just 16 weapons. That campaign was tied to the anniversary of Dr. King's assassination.

"We might not have collected a lot of weapons, but we feel we increased the understanding that people have to save themselves from this mounting strife," Mr. Sands said yesterday.

"This city needs a program like this year-round, and perhaps we can have other incentives rather than clothes or money, something like a donation to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center for each gun surrendered.

"Sure, we have to do things differently," he continued, "but we can't stop."

Police Maj. Bernard Harper, director of the community relations division, said officers logged the weapons yesterday, and the guns will be destroyed.

Major Harper said area churches yesterday collected a 20-gauge sawed-off shotgun, a .22-caliber rifle with a scope, a converted pellet rifle that fires small ammunition, four semiautomatic handguns and four revolvers.

Another minister from Baltimore, the Rev. Anthony Horsey, viewed the weapons displayed on a conference table at police headquarters. He saw some merit to yesterday's program.

"I see 11 guns on that table, and I see 11 lives possibly saved," he said. "In terms of what we didn't have, compared to New York and Washington, D.C., we did all right, I think."

He was referring to gun turn-in programs in New York and other cities in which corporate sponsors have provided incentives for owners to turn in their guns, including toys, athletic shoes and tickets to sporting events.

During a weeklong campaign in New York City last month, 375 guns -- from machine guns to handmade, pen-sized handguns -- were turned in at one police station in exchange for Toys 'R' Us gift certificates that local businessmen had bought.

Also in New York last month, Foot Locker Inc., which has 1,400 stores nationwide, began offering athletic shoes for guns.

Other cities have requested similar programs, but Foot Locker spokeswoman Carol Sharkey said, "We're looking to take it farther, but we have to evaluate it in New York before we go to Baltimore or any other city."

Vinnie DeMarco, executive director of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse, commended last night the people who surrendered weapons in yesterday's program and said the anti-violence message this weekend will continue today in area churches.

"This whole weekend is committed to Martin Luther King and his commitment to nonviolence, and we are this weekend recommiting ourselves to stop the proliferation of guns," Mr. DeMarco said.

He said members of the clergy in churches throughout the state have been urged to address the mounting violence and the use of firearms in violent acts.

Two of the churches helping to spread the message will be St. Peter Claver, North Fremont and Pennsylvania avenues, and Zion United Methodist Church, Liberty Heights and Wabash avenues.

The activities this holiday weekend will culminate in a large Monday night rally in front of the State House in Annapolis, he said.

Former presidential press secretary James Brady, who was seriously wounded during an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan in 1981, is expected to attend the rally.

'I HAVE A DREAM'

To hear excerpts of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech that was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Aug. 28, 1963, call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. Call 268-7736 in Anne Arundel County, 836-5028 in Harford County and 848-0338 in Carroll County. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6116 after you hear the greeting.

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