Turned-in guns are good for free restaurant meal

February 03, 1994|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Sun Staff Writer

When gun-toting strangers showed up at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, parishioners didn't bat an eye. They invited them to supper.

The free meal is part of a gun-exchange program initiated last month, the church's response to the shooting death last summer of one member's son at a local doughnut shop.

The swap was supposed to be for parishioners, but the lure of waterfront dining in an Annapolis restaurant proved to be a draw to outsiders, who dropped off sawed-off shotguns, hunting rifles and Saturday Night Specials.

Richard McClure, a Woods member and manager of Carrol's Creek Cafe, made the dinner-for-guns offer to his fellow church members Jan. 16.

Since then, 13 people have made the swap.

"It really does please me," says Mr. McClure. "Especially when you think that in a suburban area, people aren't always as concerned about guns as in a big city. But it's time we start being concerned."

Mr. McClure, who also is a member of the board of directors of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, is urging the association to get involved.

"I'm hoping other restaurants and other congregations will set up similar programs so we can spread the incentive," Mr. McClure said. "This is not going to be the magic pill or the one big thing to correct violence, but my thought is that we need citizens doing what they can."

In the new venture, anyone who turns in a gun to the Woods church receives a letter that is good for a free dinner at Carrol's Creek.

The congregation, which has formally endorsed gun-control legislation, is giving the weapons to Anne Arundel police to be destroyed.

In Baltimore last month, proponents of a gun turn-in could not find local businesses to provide incentives for gun owners.

But Mr. McClure modeled his program on a campaign in New York City last month, in which 375 guns were exchanged for toys and tickets to sporting events.

The restaurant owner said he made the offer because he thinks citizens must find their own solutions to violence.

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