Clergy, police working together to get guns off Fayetteville streets
Posted November 14, 2014
Fayetteville, N.C. — For the pastor of Second Baptist Church, a police-sponsored gun purchase event is personal.
Pastor Mark Rowden says the death of two members of his congregation in a home invasion motivated him to organize the Nov. 22 gun buyback program, Fayetteville's first. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. next Saturday, people may exchange their firearms for Visa gift cards, no questions asked. Assault rifles and handguns will garner $200; rifles and shotguns $150.
Fayetteville Chief of Police Harold Medlock is funding the purchases with $25,000 forfeited in drug busts. The church has kicked in another $5,000.
The programs are popular nationwide, but there are questions about whether they truly reduce gun crime. In two months after the first gun buyback, in Baltimore in 1974, crime actually rose.
Rowden sees it as a means to empower a community reeling from violence.
After the home invasion, he and others formed Clergy to Stop Violence. Seeking Safety: High Point an example of community, police partnership
"We had our first rally at the Martin Luther King Park in November of last year," he said. So, it's been about a year now."
In recent months, Faytteville has seen a string of teens shot outside of house parties. 16-year-old Joseph Braxton was murdered in September, and just last week 17-year-old Anthony Thomas-McSwain was charged with shooting another teenager outside a party over drugs and money.
Rowden hopes his buyback program has similar results to events in Winston-Salem and Greensboro, where hundreds of weapons were turned in.
"If we can get just one gun off the street, that could possibly save a life," Rowden said.
Medlock pointed out that even non-gun owners can help.
"What we're hoping is that families of children or young people or criminals that know where those illegal guns are will pick them up, bring them in, turn them in for cash," he said.