BY CAMERON VREDEVELD
LANSING STAR STAFF WRITER
There have been two homicides in Lansing since the city’s gun buyback program in August. For the Lansing Police Department, that is two too many.
The “Guns for Groceries” returns at 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Tabernacle of David Church. The Lansing Police Department ran a similar campaign last August in response to increased gun violence in the area. With more than 100 guns collected, the event was considered a great success.
According to police, there have been only two homicides in Lansing since August 2012—which is down from previous years. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero was quick to bring up the trend in his recent State of the City address.
“Statistics from the FBI show that crime in Lansing was down again for the first half of 2012,” said Bernero. “Violent crime was down nearly 20 percent, and property crime was down by 3.5 percent.”
Though the numbers on violent crimes are declining, Bernero made it clear that he and his staff are not finished ensuring safety to Lansing citizens.
“We must be ever vigilant,” said Bernero. “That is one reason why we have school resource officers in each of our public high schools.”
The mayor added that if federal funding became available, he would be willing to work with the superintendent of Lansing Public Schools to increase the number of officers on school grounds. “Safe schools and safe neighborhoods are vital ingredients of every healthy city. That’s why public safety continues to be my top priority.”
Bernero has been working alongside New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and more than 800 mayors nationwide as a part of “Mayors Against Illegal Guns.” They met in Washington D.C. last month to urge the U.S. Congress to adopt common sense gun reforms.
“Guns for Groceries” is just one attempt to minimize gun violence locally. Lansing Police Chief Teresa Szymanski accepted a $10,000 contribution from Sparrow Health System, McLaren Greater Lansing and the Michigan Health and Hospitals Association to support the program this month. In addition, Szymanski said the police department has also received over $5,000 from individual donations.
Located at 2645 Holmes Road, the second gun buyback program offers participants a $50 Meijer gift card for any rifles or long guns, a $100 gift card for handguns, and $150 gift card for military-style assault weapons.
All guns must be operable and enclosed in a sealed container, and be transported to the church unloaded and locked in the truck of a vehicle. Szymanski made it clear that there is a no-questions-asked policy. She added that serial numbers would be recorded in the event that the gun showed up under an unsolved crime, but that eventually all collections will be destroyed.