On Saturday, November 18th the Oakland Police Department, jointly with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, and other community organizations, will hold their third Oakland gun buyback event, “Guns to Gardens.” Guns to Gardens encourages Oakland area residents to surrender firearms, no questions asked, in exchange for gift cards worth up to $300, plus a garden tool that was hand-forged from a gun that was previously surrendered. In addition, for every gun turned in, a contribution will be made to Mt. Zion’s program to feed the homeless.
Our State is awash in guns. According to a 2018 study, 4.2 million California citizens own a total of over 20 million guns. In the United States as a whole, there are far more guns than people, and over 550 mass shootings (i.e., four or more people injured or killed) have occurred so far this year. Shockingly, one in six Americans has personally witnessed gun violence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 48,830 people were killed by guns in the U.S. in 2021.
Having a gun in the home triples the risk of a suicide there. Studies by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health show that gun suicides are at an all-time high and make up three-fifths of all gun deaths. In fact, an American dies by gun suicide every 22 minutes. In addition, a study reported in PubMed found that a gun kept in the home is significantly more likely to be involved in an accidental shooting, criminal assault, or suicide attempt than in self-defense, which is often cited as a justification for having a gun in the home.
We must not remain passive in the face of the violence that is tearing our communities and families apart. We are not helpless; we must do everything we can, individually and collectively, to reduce the violence. Every gun taken off our streets has the potential to save both lives and untold misery and grief.
If you or someone you know owns a gun, please take advantage of this opportunity to surrender it at Guns to Gardens. The event will be held at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 1203 Willow Street in Oakland, from noon to 4 pm on Saturday, November 18.
On behalf of Guns to Gardens