Photo by Karolina Grabowska:
Photo by Karolina Grabowska:

The Marion County Youth Violence Prevention Coalition is hosting a “Gas for Guns” event May 25 at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis in an effort to raise awareness of gun violence around the city—including suicide, unintentional shootings and other gun-violence incidents.

Individuals can trade an unwanted and unloaded gun for gas cards ranging from $25 for nonfunctioning firearms to $200 for semi-automatic rifles. The firearms must have a serial number and not be stolen or previously used in a crime. They will in turn be used to create pieces of art.

“We know that gun violence is complex. We need many solutions that address this public health crisis and cultivate a safer Indianapolis. This event is just one small piece of the puzzle,” said Rebecca McCracken, coalition coordinator for the Marion County Youth Violence Prevention Coalition.

Marion County experiences more than 23 deaths by gun for every 100,000 residents, and Indiana is 19th in the country for gun-related deaths. 

“There’s not a lot of opportunities for people to turn those [guns] over in a way where they don’t end up back on the market,” said McCracken. “This is a way where people can bring in guns and we will actually have individuals on site who will cut those firearms in pieces to be transformed into something that is not going to do harm to people in our community.”

McCracken conceded there is not a lot of data to show an event like this will drastically reduce homicides in Indianapolis, but she believes it’s an important step nonetheless.

“It’s having those conversations about reasserting the narrative that guns don't make us safer,” she said. “I feel like [the idea that guns make us safer is] a myth that we’ve kind of come to believe, and we want to keep finding ways to reinforce that it isn't a fact.

“We’re trying to provide a way to have more conversations about that.”

One way is by safely removing firearms from people’s homes. For those wanting to keep their guns, free gun-lock boxes also will be distributed.

McCracken said similar events are cropping up in Tennessee, Texas, Colorado and Virginia and that there is a movement among Presbyterian churches called Guns to Gardens, which is based on the Bible verse about turning swords into plow shares.

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