In the midst of a heated national gun debate, First Presbyterian Church of Dallas has a relatively noncontroversial approach: Offer cash to those who voluntarily give up their guns. It's a simple proposition, and one that's certainly not new. But as guns and religion are often intertwined in Texas, it's also a bit unusual.
In 2000, First Presbyterian's community ministry (dubbed The Stewpot) started holding gun buybacks as an offshoot of a denominational peacemaking initiative. Saturday's event will be the first one since 2007.
"We know it's a controversial issue, but we're not here to have debate," says event organizer Rev. Bruce Buchanan.
Just days after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, Buchanan announced the gun buyback on The Stewpot's website thusly:
Each year more than 25,000 people are victims of gun-related violence in the United States. Many children are wounded due to firearms in the house.
In the past, Buchanan says people have brought guns that had been stowed away on shelves, in closets and, once, in a Pokémon trading card box.
"When I saw the box, I thought, 'Good grief, if that's where she kept it, it's a really good thing that we got it,'" he says.
Although Buchanan hopes the buyback prevents the "tragedy of little fingers finding guns," he's not interested in treading on the rights of gun ownership.
"This is an emotional issue for people, so they make the jump that anything that deals with gun use is an assault on the second amendment," Buchanan says.
In exchange for handguns and rifles, The Stewpot is offering $50. Assault rifles could fetch up to $200. All guns must be in working order to qualify for the buyback and will be melted down and recycled.
To date, Buchanan estimates The Stewpot has collected and destroyed more than 400 firearms.
The Stewpot gun buyback is on Saturday, January 19, 10 am-2 pm at 1822 Young St.