Emily De Vito
Created: December 08, 2019 05:59 AM
ALBANY – A program aimed at curbing gun violence is back this holiday season.
Every Saturday until Christmas from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. people can drop of illegal handguns at the Victory Christian Church on Quail Street in Albany in exchange for a Walmart gift card.
"I know we have saved lives because we've gotten some very dangerous guns off the street that have come in loaded that have come in one or two at a time,” said Pastor Charlie Muller.
Muller said last year they were able to get more than 100 illegal guns off the streets. He said people are more likely to give handguns in programs like the one at his church than to police. Muller said they have a no questions asked policy.
"We will dialogue with people that are struggling,” said Muller “We had a guy come in last year, gave a gun he was all cracked up. We kind of want to steer him to maybe make a life decision to make a life change."
Muller said due to increased violence in the city and dozens of shootings in Albany this past summer, he has been doing gun buyback programs more often. He said he used to have sponsors that would help him buy the gift cards.
"This is an effort the church has to do this time of year and it's a lot for church because we're giving gifts to a lot of the children that are institutionalized,” explained Muller. “We really try to help and for us to be buying gift cards and doing that it's a lot so we do no need corporate, we need sponsors."
Muller said with many teenager involved in shootings in Albany lately, curbing violence has to do with more than just getting guns off the street. He said it’s also about getting children off them.
"We need to invest in after school programs, reading programs,” said Muller. “We need to invest in truancy programs, you know, because all this leads to more gun violence and more crime if we don't take care of some of those things."
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