Dozens of guns ‘bought’ in buyback

Published 8:38pm Monday, April 21, 2014

Bishop Robert Pettus wasn’t sure if any of the guns turned in during a gun buyback event at his church Saturday had been used in a crime. What he was sure of was that those guns brought in would never be used to hurt anyone or commit a crime in the future.

For the third consecutive year, Pettus’ church, Macedonia Apostolic Church, worked with the Selma Police Department to conduct a gun buyback program. The church worked to raise the money needed, and then asked for guns to be turned in. No questions asked.

“It doesn’t matter what it is, who is bringing it. We don’t ask,” Pettus said. “All we want to know is that these guns are off the streets and can safely be discarded.”

According to Selma Chief of Police William T. Riley, a total of 61 guns were bought back during Saturday’s event and several of those brought in were considered illegal.

“We had four that I know of that had been sawed off, modified, to make them easier to conceal; to make them far more dangerous,” Riley said.

Pettus said the church raised more than $4,000 to be used. Those turning in guns were given $50 for a handgun and $75 for any rifle or shotgun.

“The first year we did this, our church members raised $10,000 and then we have gone out into the community the past two years to raise money,” Pettus said. “It’s been tough to get support, but we are so thankful for the money that we have been able to raise.”

As each weapon was turned in, it was inspected and cleared and then logged. Riley said the next step would be taking each weapon and running an ATF trace on each weapon’s serial number to check to see if it had been used in a crime or had been reported stolen or missing.

“Our first goal — if the weapon has been reported missing or stolen — is to get it back in the hands of its owner,” Riley said. “After that, we want to make sure —whether it is through this trace or any other ballistic tests — to ensure it was not involved in a crime of some kind.”

Finally, the weapons are destroyed, with the parts of the weapons being sold off.

“It’s just a good feeling to know that these guns that we are bringing in with this event will not ever be able to hurt anyone,” Pettus said.

Riley said the safety of the community is paramount in getting illegal weapons off the street, but he said there is a more practical application to the gun buyback.

“I had someone come in and say ‘Chief, this gun has been just laying around for years and I didn’t know the best way to get rid of it,’” Riley said. “So many people have guns that are no longer being used or needed, or that are not working. This is a perfect way to safely dispose of the guns.”

As for the next gun buyback, Pettus said it all depends on the money.


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