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Protest Disrupts Detroit Gun Buyback Effort

DETROIT (WWJ) - Protesters sought to disrupt a "no questions asked" gun buyback effort Thursday on Detroit's west side.

WWJ Newsradio 950's Florence Walton reported that gun-toting enthusiasts tried to tempt the people in line by offering them more money not to turn in their weapons.

They say that gun buyback programs don't work, but Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee disagrees.

"A number of the source guns that are part of crimes and are carried illegally once were legal guns," said Godbee. "They once were possessed legally by someone (but) they may have been stolen in a home invasion."

In an effort to combat violence in Detroit, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit teamed up with police to take dangerous weapons off the street through program, that wrapped up at 3 p.m. at St. Cecilia Catholic Church on Stoepel Street.

"This battle is ours," said Detroit Bishop Donald Hanchon. "We are not just involved it as recipients of the bad news -- we can do something to change the bad news."

"I don't know that it's worse in Detroit, but wherever there is concentrated poverty, you have concentrated crime," said Hanchon. "Poverty leads people to do desperate things. There is evil in the world and, to me, one of the most hateful forms of evil is that someone, so causally without thought, would take another person's life just because it's possible."

Hanshon said free-will donations by church members raised more than $18,000 to support the buyback program.

Some in line on Thursday said they were turning in their guns to make sure that they didn't wind up in the wrong hands. Others said it's just about money.

"I need gas money," said one man, laughing. "Hey, it's the truth!"

The guns collected on Thursday included at least six assault weapons and a handful of sawed-off shotguns. Detroit police yielded 365 guns and a total of $16,820 was paid for the weapons.

People turning in an unloaded, operational handgun received up to $50 and up to $100 for two or more operational handguns. Those submitting assault weapons got up to $100.

Detroit police said they will check to make sure the guns have not been involved in any criminal activity and, eventually, the guns will be destroyed.

For more information about gun buyback programs in the city, call Detroit Police Department's community services at 313-224-3945.

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