Photos: Tom and Nadin Abbott
Video: Tom Abbott
Dec 19, 2015 (San Diego) San Diego Police, San Diego Sheriffs, The District Attorney, faith leaders. and the skateboarding community came together to get guns off the streets. Bright and early people formed up to exchange their unwanted guns for Walmart gift cards, and in higher end weapons skate boards.
According to San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman these are “unwanted weapons that maybe somebody had passed on and they don’t want those weapons to fall into the hands of maybe young children, that can have tragic results, or doing a home burglary. They don;t want others to get those weapons and go out and commit crime.”
Zimmerman added that this is a community effort with members of the community, the skating community, the pastors. “This is community policing at it’s highest level.”
Sheriff Department Captain Dave Moss told Reporting San Diego that they have four or five Deputies and himself during the program. Moreover, “we helped raise the money for the gift cards as well as the skateboards.”
He added that a rifle might net a person a $100 dollar gift card. An assault riffle might be worth a $200 gift card. Some people have brought multiple weapons, so they may get $300 for six weapons. He also expects to run out of all the skateboards (about 100) and all the gift cards.
While he does not know how many guns will be off the streets during this gun buy back, the last one they did netted 340 guns. The department also did one in San Marcos where they got 380 guns off the streets. He also said that “this provides people a way to get rid of weapons they might not want in their house anymore.” Also there are no questions asked.
We also spoke with Dennis Martinez, Harvey Cox, David Amaya and Steven WIlmore, about the skateboards. We are embedding the video. The boards were given principally by Carver Skateboards, which provided a couple hundred boards, also other companies, such as Loaded, Bustin and Dashbox.
This was done through the umbrella group Long-boarding for Peace, as well as the Sheriffs Department. They gather all kinds of equipment to “donate to projects like this gun buy back.”
“This is your way to give back to the community.” It is a way to pay it forward.” We are embedding the video and transcribing the small section of video that was missed from the interview.
The young diversion program, according to Martinez “We use guys that have stories, that the kids will listen to.” They work together with law enforcement and they “educate these kids on gun violence.We educate these kids on drugs. We educate these kids on gangs. Wherever it is our past stories, we pay it forwards hoping that we can change the minds of some of these young kids and keep them from going to prison.”
Finally we also spoke with Reverend Gerald Brown, Executive Director of the United African American Ministerial Action Council. He said the main goal of this was “to make our community safer, and also make it safe for the officers that you see here, when they go in a home or they pull someone over that they don;t have to necessarily face a gun that’s been stolen.”
He also said that he was told by one of the police captains that in the last year 150 odd guns were stolen over the course of 2015. These guns will end up in the wrong hands, “In the wrong hands it puts our community at risk, and puts the officers at risk as well. ”
The news that these events are going to happen is spread though the media and other sources including the churches. Also “every exchange that we have sets up for another. ”
Some of the weapons that were surrendered included some old rifles, but also a Tommy Gun.
All weapons will be destroyed.