Nonprofit to buy guns out of dangerous hands

- Chanda Smith Baker, a proud lifelong north Minneapolis resident, knows all too well the lasting trauma of just one gun in the grasp of the wrong hands.

“It was a devastating loss and it has sat with me every single day,” said Baker. “My cousin Kristopher Miller was killed in May of 2011,” she told FOX 9.

Miller, a father, was only 28 years old.

He had just finished the police academy and meanwhile served as a part-time security guard when Baker says, “a jealous husband came and shot him as he was going home.”

Now, five years after her cousin’s murder, Baker turns her pain into action.

This weekend, Pillsbury Communities United, the nonprofit Baker operates as CEO & president, will host a gun buy-back in conjunction with the City of Minneapolis.

“This is beyond street violence this is about how do we protect our children and our families and really encouraging if you are a gun owner how you can do it more securely and safely,” said Baker.

“We’re unable to say exactly the number of shootings it will reduce, but really any gun we get off the street is one less chance of something bad happened,” said Minneapolis Police public information officer, Corey Schmidt.

“If you are one of the people that may have been using guns on the street and are ready to turn it in, maybe to start a new life, there’s no questions asked so there’s no risk to you,” said Minneapolis Fire Department spokesman Brian Tyner.

On Saturday August 27, unloaded guns can be dropped off at Fire Station 17 at 330 E 38th St. in south Minneapolis and Fire Station 14 at 2002 Lowry Ave N in north Minneapolis in exchange for Visa gift cards. Compensation ranges from $15-$300 depending on the caliber of gun turned in. The buy-back goes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Although guns will be collected with no questions asked, Minneapolis police will later screen the weapons.
“We will run the serial number because if they are stolen we want to return them to the owner,” said Schmidt.
MPD will then disable the guns completely.

“Those guns will never be able to be back on the street,” Schmidt assured.

Police will then hand the weapons to Pillsbury United Communities, which will in turn utilize the decommissioned guns to support the “Art is My Weapon” campaign.

Tyner says the campaign will empower artists to illustrate the dangers of gun violence and its effects on the community.

Baker hopes the campaign will prevent others from suffering and allow those hurting, a safe space to heal, and spark change.

“There’s a lot of people out here in the pit of grief right now that we hope to let know that there are folks out [here] that care that this has happened,” said Chanda.

“We know the gun buy-back won’t be a panacea, we know it’s not going to stop it, but we are making actions and we are committed towards making communities safer,” she smiled.

People can receive Visa gift cards for the following amounts in exchange for various types of guns:

$300 = compensation for turning in an assault weapon, semi-automatic small caliber rifle with detachable magazine
$200 = compensation for turning in handguns and large caliber rifles, bolt action or lever action rifle
$100 = compensation for turning in shotguns, and small caliber rifles, bolt action or lever action rifle
$15 (or donated)= compensation for turning in inoperable guns of any kind, antique firearms, or BB guns.

Ammunition and firearm accessories are accepted for free.

For more information on how to contribute financially to support the buy-back and also how you can participate as an artist at visit www.ArtIsMyWeapon.org.

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