READING, Pa. – The doors of St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Reading will be open to anyone on Saturday — not for worship but for a gun buyback event.
"We want to do what we can to make our city streets safe," said Rev. Jerry Jones, pastor of the church.
Jones says he got a call from the mayor's office, asking if he'd like the church to be one of the sites for the program. Without hesitation, he said yes.
"If you look at what's going on in our country — a lot of the gun violence that's going on, mass shootings, all kinds of shootings going on," said Jones, "so I think it's important for us to really look at the weapons that are on the street and do what we can to make it safe."
St. John Missionary, located at 436 S. Seventh St., is one of two sites for Saturday's gun buyback event. Segunda Iglesia Tesalonica, 524 Greenwich St., is the other. People can bring guns to either location and the city will pay up to $200 for them, with no names taken and no questions asked.
"Anyone can bring them down — it doesn't matter if they're licensed, illegal or whatever," said Jones. "We just want to get the guns off the streets."
Jones says Reading police officers will be on hand to evaluate the firearms. Handguns, shotguns, and rifles will be exchanged for $100 while assault weapons will go for $200.
The program is part of the mayor's efforts to curb gun violence. He announced it after police said a 14-year-old killed a 16-year-old and wounded another teen in Oakbrook back in February.
"Have a safe place where people can come, not worrying about any charges levied against them or anything like that," Jones said. "Just to let them know that our community and our city of Reading and our police department does care."
The guns must be unloaded, intact and carried in a box or container. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.