Guns for Groceries may become a Lansing tradition.
The city held its second gun buyback event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Tabernacle of David, on Lansing’s south side. No questions asked, Lansing Police Department officers took in 122 firearms.
Officer Bob Merritt said the buybacks included 73 handguns, 47 long guns and two operable military-style, assault weapons.
An officer inspected weapons for serial and model numbers before handing over Meijer gift cards worth up to $150 for more militant gear.
“Can I buy gas with this?” asked 63-year-old Lansing resident Floyd McGuire, who turned in a .32—caliber handgun he found while walking the streets of Jackson, where he once lived. McGuire is a hunter who shoots rabbits and pheasants for food.
“Handguns I don’t care about,” he said. “I figured (Guns for Groceries) was a real good deal.”
His gun and the other weapons handed over Saturday are doomed for destruction.
Police officers agreed most buyback participants are in their forties or older.
A $10,000 donation from Sparrow Health System, McLaren Greater Lansing and the Michigan Health and Hospitals Association, along with $5,000 in other donations, permitted Saturday’s event.
Merritt foresees more gun buybacks in Lasing so long as the donations continue and Mayor Virg Bernero continues his support.
“They’re successful,” Merritt said, emphasizing the removal of guns from Lansing’s streets.
Bernero launched Guns for Groceries to reduce and prevent gun violence in Lansing. The late summer debut brought in 100 weapons, with long guns outnumbering handguns.
According to an FBI preliminary review of the first six months of 2012, violent crime in Lansing was down but murders were up when compared to the same time period for 2011.
Tragedies like Sandy Hook, the mass Newtown, Conn., shooting that left 27 dead, including 20 children, have galvanized gun debates nationwide.
The heated issue surfaced at Saturday’s Guns for Groceries. Several One Million Moms 4 Gun Control representatives held banners in favor of the event. On the other side of the street, several individuals stood with “Cash for Guns” banners. They were willing to purchase guns so they wouldn’t be destroyed.
The two sides talked, which Jann Nestell, 63, of Williamston, considered a good sign.
She favors sensible gun laws that could prevent another Sandy Hook from happening.
“It can’t happen one more time,” she said. “We are one of the most gun-owning countries in the world.”
Ryan Miles, 24, and Erica Kase, 24, drove an hour from South Lyon to protest the buyback program.
“We have a right to bear arms,” Kase said. “If they’re collecting the guns, the people don’t have them for self defense.”