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Group launches a gun buy-back drive to stop violence

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RACINE (WITI) -- In an effort to halt gun violence across Racine, the Racine Interfaith Coalition (RIC) has launched a gun buy-back drive that will begin on Saturday, July 27th. Through this drive, called "Rid the Piece to Keep the Peace," the RIC hopes to keep guns out of the hands of children and the mentally ill.

The RIC will compensate participants $50 to $100 for each unloaded and unwanted firearm. All of the guns collected will be destroyed.

"The police will just destroy that gun and it will be gone they'll cut it into pieces and eventually melt it down," said RIC President Tammy Hayward.

Kelly Gallagher is one of the people who will benefit from this buy-back drive. Her mother had inherited a gun years ago -- she never thought much about the weapon until her home was burglarized.

"She realized with that break-in that had they been there long enough they would've been able to find it," Gallagher recalled. "(It) could've been used in a crime or could've been used to hurt somebody."

Hayward said this problem was a common one.

"This gun is now in their possession," Hayward said. "They don't know what the history is. They are a little nervous about it but they'd like it out of their house."

Hayward said these drives can give people who have firearms a peace of mind.

"(It's a) responsible and good place where they can dispose of it, have some money and know it will never be used again," Hayward said.

To participate in the "Rid the Piece to Keep the Peace" drive, just go to the designated location, keep the unwanted firearm locked in the trunk of the car and open the trunk. A Racine police officer will then relieve you of the firearm while you wait in the car.

Currently, the RIC has raised $6,000 to buy back guns and have them destroyed. The coalition hopes to raise $20,000 so that it might rid the county of 200 guns. 

"If we take ten guns off the street and ten less people get shot it's worth everything," said Hayward.

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