Unholy Alliance; Church & State
Churches and Cops Team Up for “Gun Surrender”
The News & Advance
July 12, 2009
The third gun surrender event held in conjunction between Churches United for Service and the Lynchburg Police Department exceeded the expectations of organizers Saturday afternoon.
Citizens surrendered six firearms and a pellet gun Saturday, said the Rev. James Coleman, of Churches United for Service, which more than doubled the amount of guns turned in previously.
Coleman said he estimated about 100 people turned out for the event, held at the James Crossing Apartments — a change from the group’s usual Miller Park location.
“The difference today is that we launched a neighborhood initiative,” he said.
The initiative, he explained, will be a Churches United for Service-led effort to construct a pavilion where residents can hold gatherings and events.
In attendance at Saturday’s event, among other city leaders and police personnel, were Virginia Del. Shannon Valentine, D-Lynchburg, and Lynchburg Vice Mayor Bert Dodson.
“I think we’ve struck something now,” Coleman said, particularly of the amount of guns surrendered.
He said he was contacted by one resident who told Coleman that he had eight guns to surrender, but was unable to do so at James Crossing because of legal restrictions.
Coleman said the group is working with that resident to find a way that the guns can be turned in.
“We think that it’s going to only increase,” Coleman said, regarding the number of guns surrendered.
One issue the effort has faced, he said, is citizens unwilling to surrender their guns if they won’t receive any compensation other than a chance to win the much-hyped retired police cruiser.
Coleman said organizers are attempting to procure gift certificates and other bonuses from area businesses as token prizes for anyone willing to surrender a firearm.
“Anyone that turns in a gun, they’re going to get something,” he said, “that will be a tangible blessing to them.”
That, he said, is in addition to the Bibles and other information given out at each event.
Of the ultimate prize, the 2000 Chevy Impala with an impressive new paint job, Coleman said work is coming along well, and more upgrades are to come, such as a new sound system.
“It already looks like something that anybody would want to have,” he said.
Coleman said no future dates have been planned, but he envisions several more events around Lynchburg, each in a different area.
“We are not going to rest until we’ve done all we can to saturate the community,” he said.