Church says it ran out of funds for MLK Day gun buyback program in just 45 minutes

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The Church of the Holy Cross in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, says it received 148 guns after hosting a gun buyback program on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Depending on the kind of firearm people brought in, the church offered them $50 or $100. According to the Holy Cross senior warden who spoke to CNN, the church initially raised over $5,000 for the buyback program, and due to popularity, ran out of money in under an hour.

"In the first 45 minutes, we actually ran out of money," Sylvia Wilson explained to CNN. "Some people were just bringing the guns in and they didn't want the money. They just wanted to get the guns out of their homes."

As reported by CBS Pittsburgh, police say they log, trace, and, if applicable, return stolen guns to owners after all are collected. Any guns that won’t be returned to its rightful owner will be destroyed after police receive a court order to do so. CNN reports that there were 104 handguns and 42 rifles, including two AR-15s.

"I had a gun that I was looking to get rid of anyway, and I just thought of a better way," Darius McGhee, who told WTAE he was inspired by King’s message of nonviolence, stated on why he was participating in the buyback program. "Instead of going to a pawn shop to get it, do it in the community, support what they’re doing and support the effort they got going on down here."

Lack of funds didn’t stop people from donating their guns, Wilson told CNN. Others came by the church to offer donations to keep the drive going, which totaled at about $1,000, Rich Creehan, director of external relations for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, told the news outlet.

“We’re obviously going to have to do this again, but we plan this gun buyback assuming that we would get a certain amount of guns and we’ve overextended that plan,” Rev. Torrey Johnson stated to CBS Pittsburgh.

As previously covered at Daily Kos, some individuals do surrender their guns at police stations, meaning that you don’t necessarily have to wait for a buyback program or event. In terms of 2020 Democratic hopefuls, a federal ban on assault weapons is pretty much the party line. Federal buyback programs for assault weapons are generally considered to be a positive, though there’s some discussion on whether having one be voluntary versus mandatory is the best path.

For example, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke argued on behalf of a mandatory buyback of assault weapons, as well as a voluntary buyback of handguns, with a viral, "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47." Rep. Eric Swalwell campaigned largely on gun reform, including wanting to enact a federal buyback program for assault weapons. Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker also supported mandatory buybacks on assault weapons during their bids, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren supports voluntary ones. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg support voluntary buyback programs for assault weapons.

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