Gun turn-in at two Baltimore parishes collects 70 weapons

This is an updated version of the story originally posted Nov. 22, 2010.
Of the 26 guns collected at St. Gregory the Great Parish during a gun turn-in day Nov. 20, there were “some very serious revolvers,” according to Monsignor Damien G. Nalepa, pastor of the West Baltimore parish.

An additional 28 guns were brought in the following Monday, bringing the parish’s total for a few days to 54, he said.
As in the past, many of the guns came from people who just didn’t want the dangerous weapons in the home, in case the family might be injured or the guns might be stolen. One man said he didn’t want weapons in the house after his father recently moved in.

Monsignor Nalepa said that a couple of the guns were turned in by people who had found the guns in their yards, tossed or hidden there by local criminals or drug dealers.

The financial incentive of $100 cash for any working automatic weapon or $50 for any other working gun seemed to be the draw, especially in tight economic times. Some of the guns seemed new, and might have been worth more on the street, but the safe way to turn them in to the church, with no questions asked, helped.

Guns are then turned over to Baltimore Police officers who record the serial number of each weapon; the guns will eventually be destroyed.

Third Order Regular Franciscan Father Peter Lyons, pastor of St. Wenceslaus and St. Ann parishes in East Baltimore, agreed the cash incentive helped bring 16 guns in at St. Wenceslaus, including “Saturday-night specials” and older weapons. Again, a weapon that the owner thought was unloaded turned out to be loaded. Parish staffers unloaded it safely.

Four police officers assisted the east-side effort, and one told Father Lyons, “Any time you can get 10 to 20 guns off the street, it’s a good thing for us.”

The gun turn-in campaign is sponsored by The Catholic Review, and has brought in more than 240 guns since St. Gregory Parish started it more than three years ago. Future dates will be scheduled in 2011.

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Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.