In an attempt to curtail gun violence, the Little Rock chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity is addressing the number of guns in circulation by offering gift cards to anyone who turns in an operable firearm at an event this Saturday. The “Gun Buy Back” event will be held at the St. Mark Baptist Church at 5722 West 12th St. in Little Rock from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We’re just trying to make a difference,” chapter President Larry Harris said. “It’s just guns everywhere. … It only takes one gun to take a life, so we are committed to this small piece of the puzzle.”
The fraternity isn’t telling people to get rid of guns, but if anyone has a firearm laying around that’s going unused, they’re encouraged to turn it in, Harris said. It’s common for young people to access old guns at home. The firearm may have been inherited from someone in the family, for example, but they can become a danger to unstable individuals if not properly stored.
There are no questions asked when turning in a gun, Harris said. Plus, the monetary incentive for turning in a gun is $100. About $6,000 in donated funds are available for the event Saturday. Harris said the same person can receive multiple gift cards for multiple guns. Weapons will be accepted as long as they have the funds.
Forty weapons were collected during the event last year.
Officers from the Little Rock Police Department will be on site Saturday, but far enough away from where individuals turn in the guns as to not discourage folks. Officers will safely collect the firearms to dispose of them, LRPD spokesperson Mark Edwards said. A local scrap shop takes the guns and crushes them, he said. The LRPD will not keep any guns collected.
Three prominent leaders are listed as co-sponsors on the event’s flier: State Sen. Linda Chesterfield (D-Little Rock), State Rep. Jamie Scott (D-North Little Rock) and Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde.
Hyde personally donated $1,000 to the event, and said he supports events that encourage getting more guns off the street.
“I responded gladly because of the amount of gun crimes that we have in our community these days, especially how much of that gun violence is coming out of our 15-to-22-year-old population,” Hyde said.
Six of the 17 young people held at the Pulaski County Juvenile Detention Facility were being held with gun-related charges as of June 22, according to data from Director Rodney Shepherd.
Phi Beta Sigma’s fight against gun violence is a personal one. Harris said members of the fraternity have lost family members due to gun crimes.
“We’re just committed to trying to save a life.”