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Gun Rights Group Participates In Chicago Gun Turn-In, Uses Money For Shooting Camp

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A downstate gun rights group turned dozens of firearms for the city's gun turn-in program last month, and used the $6,000 in proceeds to send a group of young shooters to a camp hosted by the National Rifle Association.

The Champaign-based group "Guns Save Life" says it turned in dozens of weapons, and got back more than $6,000 in gift cards from the city.

Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times, Guns Save Life president John Boch described the items the group turned in as "rusty, non-firing junk," and that the goal was to "redirect funds from people who would work against private ownership of firearms."

For the gun turn-in event, Chicago Police partnered with area churches to collect firearms, no questions asked, in exchange for $100 gift cards for each firearm. The program was dubbed "Don't Kill a Dream, Save a Life."

Guns Save Life won $6,240 in gift cards in exchange for its "junk" guns, the Sun-Times reported.

Police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton said Guns Save Life is abusing the program, for which the purpose is to get residents to turn in their guns and reduce violence.

But Boch argued that criminals are not the ones handing in their weapons anyway. He told the Sun-Times that no criminal would use "the tool he uses to do his trade" for a $100 gift card.

Guns Save Life is known for the Burma Shave-style ad campaigns that appear along the roadside on Interstate 57 downstate, which messages on successive signs such as "Gun control… disarms victims… not criminals."

The group has been criticized by opponents for some of the videos that are embedded on its Web site, particularly a 2009 clip titled "The Second American Revolution" in which actor Bob Basso appears as Thomas Paine, and criticizes "multiculturalism" and other trends that are characterized as contrary to the founding fathers' ideals.

The group also publishes a monthly gun journal.

Police took in more than 5,500 weapons in the gun turn-in program a week ago Saturday.

The firearms ranged from an M-60 machine gun and sawed-off shotguns to pen-like "zip" guns that can fire a lethal round. Of the 5,500-plus weapons, about 700 turned out to be BB-guns or replicas, police Supt. McCarthy said.

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