Photo of the June 11 Gift Cards for Guns, courtesy of Many Helping Hands 365.
While national legislation to prevent gun violence may be in a deadlock, hyperlocal solutions are making our communities safer, one gun less at a time.
Last Saturday, Cambridge’s community-driven, 7th annual Guns for Gift Cards drive collected a record 245 guns. Drawn by the event’s promise of “no id, no questions,” people from all over Massachusetts, even New Hampshire, turned in unwanted guns in exchange for grocery gift cards.
The power behind this program is a coalition of 60+ community partners organized by Many Helping Hands 365, including nonprofits, the faith-based community, the City, Cambridge Police and Public Health Department, and the Middlesex Sheriff.
“This is truly a public health initiative – it helps save lives of those suffering from mental health issues, those at risk of domestic violence, or children who may accidentally access unlocked guns,” said Lori Lander, co-founder of Many Helping Hands 365 and Cambridge Community Foundation board member.
Some participants chose to donate their gift cards to local food pantries like that at Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, which hosted a collection site, as did Reservoir Church.
Since 2013, the Middlesex County Sheriff has helped facilitate similar gun buy backs in 15 cities and towns throughout the county with 1,890 unwanted guns turned in. Civic leaders from nearby towns like Newton stopped by June 11 to see the Cambridge effort in action, in hopes of replicating it in their own communities.
We applaud our city for working together to create a model for others to follow and make our communities safer for all.