Demonstrators around Chicagoland are expected to hit the streets to protest guns as part of demonstrations planned nationwide Saturday. Meanwhile, the city will pay to get guns off the streets in a separate firearm-focused effort this Saturday.
Organizers said thousands of people are expected to attend the March For Our Lives rally planned for noon at Federal Plaza. The Chicago Police Department will host a no-questions-asked, $100 reward gun turn-in program at Auburn Gresham’s St. Sabina Catholic Church from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The two separate events follow two major mass shootings that have captivated the country: the racist attack that killed 10 in a Buffalo grocery store and the shooting spree that killed 19 school children and two teachers at a Uvalde, TX elementary school.
“We’re all affected by the fact that we don’t have common sense gun laws in our country,” said one of the march’s organizers, 19-year-old Lara Haciosmanoglu. “We have to be a united front in order for people in positions of power to do anything about it.”
Saturday’s March For Our Lives rally will coincide with more than 500 other planned March For Our Lives demonstrations across the country, Haciosmanoglu said. Marches are also planned in Highland Park, Crystal Lake, Palatine, Elgin, St. Charles, Downers Grove and DeKalb, according to the organization’s web site.
Haciosmanoglu remembered March For Our Life’s 2018 protest, after which “nothing really happened” to change gun laws even though people across the country took to the streets, she said.
“This time is different, though. We’re angry. We’re no longer complacent. We need the change now, and we’re demanding it,” the second-year DePaul University student said. Haciosmanoglu encouraged demonstrators to bring items for mutual aid donation, such as baby formula, diapers and nonperishable food.
Elsewhere in Chicago, a church and police are teaming up to try to combat local gun violence by paying people for their firearms. At the CPD and St. Sabina gun turn-in, folks who hand over a firearm will get $100 gift card from the city, no questions asked.
“Guns are the way we are now handling our anger in our country,” St. Sabina pastor Fr. Michael Pfleger said. “Any gun you get off the street is a gun that can’t shoot somebody.”
Pfleger hopes that the cash-incentive will be extra-attractive to gun holders as gas and food prices see inflation. People who bring in guns will remain anonymous, he said.
Past St. Sabina gun turn-ins have hauled in over 300 firearms, Pfleger said. The church will also offer sign-ups for its mentorship and job program, he added.
St. Sabina will give an extra $100 to anyone who brings in an assault weapon, Pfleger said.
“Why are we, who call ourselves a civilized country, selling weapons of war to people on the street? It’s insane to me,” he said. He wants to see high capacity guns and assault weapons banned.
People who have don’t use or want the guns they have, and are afraid of accidents, gun thefts and suicide, should turn in their firearms, said Glen Brooks, CPD’s Community Policing director.
“Guns aren’t like a carton of milk. There is no way to properly dispose of your guns,” Brooks said, adding that the city destroys turned-in guns.
The turn-in also will award $10 to people who bring in realistic looking replica guns, like BB guns, he said. Brooks emphasized that the turn-in program will be anonymous.
“We’re not going to be asking people questions of where they got the gun, how they the gun and so forth,” he said. The city plans to host more turn-in events soon.
The gun turn-in event will take place at St. Sabina Catholic Church, 1210 W 78th St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.