Less funds for gun turn-in program

By Editorial Board

Eliminating high rates of gun violence in Chicago has been one of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s top priorities throughout his 21 years in office. The city currently holds some of the strictest firearm laws in the United States that ban hand guns in the city.

Additionally, another effort of Daley’s to deter violence and ownership of illegal guns is an annual “no questions asked” program, which gives an incentive to those who turn in weapons.

Since 2006, this gun turn-in program has retrieved almost 19,000 guns. Nearly 2,000 were turned in last summer.

On May 8, there were 22 designated firearm drop off locations around Chicago. For each gun, the donor received a Prepaid Mastercard that can be used anywhere Mastercards are accepted, with the exception of gun shops. For turning in an assault weapon, $100 was given, and for any other gun, $75 was distributed. Each location also accepted BB guns, air guns and replica guns. Those who turned in such guns received $10 a piece.

The turn-in program, which is dependent on monetary donations from businesses, has lacked appropriate funds since last year, when only $69,000 was raised. Two years ago, $130,000 was donated, but so far this year, only about $46,000 was given.

Providing residents with an incentive to turn in weapons may be the most effective short-term measure to eliminate as many illegal guns from the street as possible. However, it is difficult to imagine those who inflict gun violence in the city are the people turning in their weapons for a mere $75 to $100.

Because handguns are illegal in the city, it is doubtful that people who put a great effort into initially possessing the weapons would turn them over to the police to be destroyed. It would be beneficial for police to know where the guns come from by using an anonymous questionnaire.

It is important to determine how many people are turning in broken guns to receive the prepaid card so potential sponsors will know that the majority of their donations are given out to those who turn in fully-functioning guns.

This program’s main objective is to retrieve illegal weapons with “no questions asked,” but it may be time to start inquiring where the guns were found through a questionnaire. This could help police determine where the guns are being distributed or help solve crimes. But in order to keep people turning in their guns, it must be stressed that the questionnaire is anonymous.

This program ignores the real problem of gun violence in the city and hands money out to those willing to give away their guns for a small price. Even though this annual gun turn-in day has taken thousands of guns off the streets, there are still many more out there.