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Gun buyback event held in Roanoke

A Groceries Not Guns gun buyback event was held in Roanoke on Saturday, June 25, 2022. (Credit: Mia Nelson/WSET)
A Groceries Not Guns gun buyback event was held in Roanoke on Saturday, June 25, 2022. (Credit: Mia Nelson/WSET)
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The Roanoke City Community is working to fight gun violence in a unique way.

At the 'Groceries Not Guns' gun buyback event in Roanoke, folks could receive a $250 grocery gift card for bringing in a semi-automatic handgun or $150 grocery gift card for a shotgun, rifle, or revolver.

The Roanoke NAACP teamed up with the Roanoke City Police department as well as other community partners, to host their second gun buyback event.

John Williams brought in a 22 rifle.

"I wanted to support the community's efforts to reduce the number of guns in people's hands and frankly, I don't use the gun that much anymore. When I was younger and did more activities, then I did, but I'm glad we had the event to help remove unnecessary guns out there," Williams said.

President of the Roanoke Chapter of the NAACP, Brenda Hale, said at last year's event, they took in 91 guns.

This year, the event brought in 151 guns.

She said its especially important now because of the increase in gun violence across the country.

"We are a pressured to do something. If everybody could do something, and do something within your realm of your capabilities, then that's how we can bring about change. That's the only way we can bring about change is when we go out here and try to make a difference and that's what we're trying to do today," Hale said.

Here's how it all worked:

First, the police department inspected the firearms, making sure they were safe.

Next, folks filled out some forms and received a ticket for either a $250 or a $150 gift card.

Then, police received the weapons, verified information, and package them to be destroyed.

Finally, folks could receive their gift cards. Free gun locks were also available.

Lt. Eric Thiel with the Roanoke Police Department said a primary goal of today was to support their community and build relationships.

"Our goal is building relationships because a lot of our violent crime, our gun crime, really comes down to the citizens of our city partnering with us to help solve these crimes," Thiel said.

Catherine Koebel, grant writer and event coordinator for Groceries Not Guns said through this even they want to create a safer Roanoke City and Southwestern Virginia.

"The idea is twofold. It's a culture change and it's also about, you know, just literally helping people like, have the safety in their homes," Koebel said.

She said the gift cards were paid for through a grant from the City's Gun Violence Prevention Commission as well as other significant donations from Kroger, Food Lion, Carillion, and other individual donors.

Hale said they plan to make this an annual event.

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