San Diego

Gun Buyback Program Honors Victims of Gun Violence

For the past 10 years, the United African American Ministerial Action Council has hosted a gun buyback program in Encanto in honor of two teens who were killed as a result of gun violence.

On Saturday, the Council once again co-hosted the event with the San Diego Police Department, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

“It started because of the death of Michael Taylor and Monique  Palmer,” the Rev. Gerald Brown said. “We continued this event in their memory to keep out street, community, city and county safe.”

Taylor, 15, and Palmer, 17, were leaving a house party in Valencia Park in December 2008 when they were gunned down by Frederick Garcia Cruz, a gang member. Both Taylor and Palmer have no gang connection.

Cruz was sentenced to 50 years to life for their murder in March 2011.

“Participating in this program could very well save someone's life by preventing guns from getting into the wrong hands — or a child's hands,”  San Diego police Chief David Nisleit said in a statement.

In addition to removing unwanted guns off the streets, the event also honors all victims of gun violence, organizers said.

"It is our hope people will honor not only these two young people, who lost their lives so senselessly but all people who have died due to gun violence," San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore said in a statement. 

Nearly 900 guns were removed from the street in the past three years through this event. Roughly 300 guns were collected each year, Brown said.

“This is the best show of law enforcement, community and church coming together for one purpose: to make San Diego the safest city to work, play and worship,” he said.

On Saturday, 249 guns were turned in, 121 of which were handguns. People who turn in their guns got a gift card or a skateboard in return. The cards were worth $100 to $200 depending on the weapons.

One man brought in a 19th century U.S. cavalry gun, valued at over $3,000, said San Diego police Capt. Gerry Hara.

“Less number of guns that there are, less gun violence that there’s going to be," Hara said. "So we’re here working with a lot of community partners as well as the sheriff’s department the DA’s office and City Council to just buy back all those guns and let’s get all those guns off the street.”

All guns collected will be destroyed.

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