Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Gun Exchange Success & Looking Forward

The Peoria Gun Exchange has set a new community record for the collection of guns and other weapons. During the final exchange of the year held on Saturday Nov. 3rd the Peoria Assn. Of Pastors collected 69 weapons and issued 15 IOU’s for gift certificates.

This brings the 2007 totals to approximately 123 weapons. In addition, the Assn. has been responsible for distributing over $8,500 in gift cards and certificates. This figure not only represents a benefit to the participants of the exchange but also a benefit to the entire community.

What we discovered during the exchange:

There were a number of things uncovered during the exchange that neither the Pastors, police or the community expected.
  • First, the Pastors were of service to the elderly in the community by helping to make their homes safer and relieve them from what many of them viewed as potentially dangerous weapons and situations.
  • Secondly, we were of service to families with small children. Once again it was discovered that many mothers and fathers were anxious to make their environments safer by turning in unwanted weapons. We were unable to determine how many individuals made their environments safer by checking the security of the weapons in their homes, but we received many favorable commentaries from individuals who did so.
  • Finally, many individuals just needed a little encouragement both spiritually, mentally and physically. The combination of prayer and a monetary gift in exchange for a weapon was an unbeatable combination.
As compared to other communities:

The Peoria Gun Exchange was intended to minister to individuals spiritually and was limited in focus. Our emphasis was on handguns and the potential problems that handguns pose to the community. The Springfield and Chicago Illinois gun exchanges were dynamic and yielded more sheer numbers but their efforts were not as targeted. We turned away many individuals with long guns and other types of weapons that were not in our target.

Notwithstanding, we are very excited about how the City Council and Mayor’s office in both Chicago and Springfield got behind their exchange efforts. The Springfield, IL. Mayor led their effort and the City contributed $15,000 without reluctance. Chicago contributed a highly significant amount of money toward theirs. In slight contrast, the City of Peoria gave $2,500 toward the Peoria effort. In all fairness, various council members gave personally toward the effort. In all, we are thankful for EVERYONE that contributed, great or small, in whatever amount they were able to.

To The Critic

First of all, crime didn’t rise in anticipation of either of our events and the weapons we took in were functional.
In addition, we simply suggest that an ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure. Our investment to curb violence may save countless lives, to which there is no dollar amount for replacement. So far as using tax dollars to fund this sort of program, the current estimate is that it takes over $30,000 annually to house a prisoner in the Illinois prison system. THESE ARE TAX DOLLARS spent at a much greater amount than either community invested in their programs. If one person is kept out of prison for 5 years, the program has more than paid for itself.

Looking Forward

We are looking forward to the 2008 Peoria Gun Exchange. Although we are developing changes in the program and the event dates, we are actively seeking sponsors and community involvement. Next years event will probably feature a debit/credit gift card as opposed to an individuals retailers card so that participants can spend money at the retailer of their choice.

Individuals and businesses wishing to be a part of this ongoing effort to bring peace and harmony to the community can contribute to the Pastors Assn. in the following manner:

Mail Contributions any amount to:
  • New Bethel/Pastors Assn.
    PO Box 6167
    Peoria, IL. 61601-6167
  • Memo: Gun Exchange
All contributions will be acknowledged by charitable receipt.

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