Pastor, councilman plan gun buyback

Published 8:41 am Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Selma city councilman and local pastor are teaming up to help get guns off of the city’s streets.

Selma City Councilman Michael Johnson and Robert Pettus, pastor of Macedonia Apostolic Church, are in the midst of planning a gun buyback event that would dole out money for guns, with no questions asked.

The guns, purchased during the buyback, would then be destroyed. It would be the third time Pettus has organized such an event in Selma.

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Pettus said the event is especially relevant with the recent rise in homicides in Selma. Two murders have already occurred in the city limits in 2014. An identical number occurred in December, including the tragic death of Selma High School student Alexis Hunter.

“This is our way of trying to help curb all the sense murder and killings,” Pettus said. “We want to get as many guns off of the streets as we can. We are saying swap and save a life; it’s another way of saying no more.”

Johnson said the perceived increase in homicides is unwarranted, but also significantly different from his time as a child in Selma.

“You have these young kids who are robbing and killing, which doesn’t even make sense,” Johnson said. “When I was growing up in Selma we got outside and played sports. We weren’t interested in robbing someone over a few dollars or a phone. Doing a gun buyback will not cure everything, but most of the killing and robbing that has been going on in involves guns.”

Pettus hasn’t set a date for the buyback, but is beginning to take donations to help pay for the guns, through his church. Johnson is also helping with fundraising. He plans to donate money personally and asked each city councilman to donate $200 in discretionary funds — traditionally given to charities or non-profit organizations.

In its first year, the event collected 57 guns. Collections dropped slightly, to 37 guns collected, in the events second year due to a shortage in funding.

“It was sad to see all those people standing in line, wanting to help get the guns off of the streets,” Johnson said. “All of those guns had to return back home.”

For more information about the program, or to donate to the gun buyback, Pettus recommended calling the Macedonia Apostolic Church at 875-5338.