According to the Associated Press, the Chicago Police Department's annual gun buy-back event this past Saturday removed more than 5,500 firearms from the city's streets. The CPD held the event at about two dozen churches throughout the city and individuals with firearms could turn in their weapons and receive a gift card in return, no questions asked. Law enforcement officials have held such programs before and have continued to emphasize the events as good ways to reduce deadly weapons throughout Chicago's neighborhoods.
Here are some facts about this year's gun buy-back event:
* CBS reported that the police department collected firearms ranging from an M-60 machine gun to sawed-off shotguns and that law enforcement officers were still unloading and sorting pallets of collected guns, meaning the number of turned-in firearms could increase.
* Those turning in guns received a $100 gift card for each firearm and those turning in BB-guns and replicas received $10 gift cards.
* Saturday's event was titled "Don't Kill a Dream, Save a Life," and with more than 5,500 guns turned in, this year's event is one of the most successful although 2007 holds the record with more than 6,700 weapons handed over to police.
* The event brought in more guns than expected, so much so that some locations ran out of gift cards and had to give individuals IOUs to come back next weekend to receive their gift card, noted the Chicago Sun-Times.
* All of the weapons given to the CPD during Saturday's event will be destroyed and all individuals who turned in a weapon will remain anonymous.
* WLS added that the police department's buy-back program has continued to be criticized by those who say that it is not taking the right weapons off Chicago's streets and that gang members are not the ones turning guns in.
* Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy spoke at a press conference Saturday night and said, "I'm quite certain that if you look at some of these heavy weapons we certainly are making a difference here, just by getting these guns off the street."
* Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina, one of the churches that participated in the event, responded to criticism by commenting, "We got some tech 9s, we have some assault, a whole combination of really bad guns off the street. So to those that say it ain't doing no good, my question is 'you're doing what?'"
* The event comes after a string of recent homicides, including a drive-by shooting Friday night that claimed the life of 14-year-old bystander Antonio Davis.
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.