Inspired by last December's tragic events in Newtown, Conn., the Schaumburg/Hoffman Estates Clergy Association will host a Gun Turn In this month to reduce the number of unwanted or unnecessary firearms in the community.
The event will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 20, at Church of the Holy Spirit, 1451 W. Bode Road in Schaumburg. While supplies last, volunteers will give away a $40 gift card for every gun turned in.
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Deacon Mike Enger of Church of the Holy Spirit in Schaumburg said the event isn't intended as an attack or criticism of the Second Amendment right to own firearms.
"The idea is to take a gun that is no longer needed out of a house," Enger said. "Nobody's talking about taking guns away or anything like that."
The event is the brainchild of Church of the Holy Spirit Pastor John Dearhammer, who was upset as many were by the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last year.
Dearhammer already was familiar with gun turn-ins from his time at St. Gall Catholic Church in Chicago, which used to host them for the city.
"I was always amazed," Dearhammer said. "There were never less than 300 guns turned in."
Examples of families who participated were those who'd nearly forgotten about the guns they owned, those about to see children or grandchildren introduced to the household, or ones in which the actual gun owner had died.
Though organized exclusively by the clergy association, the event will be supervised and all weapons handled by members of the Schaumburg Police Department. The normal service fee of $1,818 for having multiple officers at the three-hour event has been waived by the department.
Also waived, by Heritage Bank of Schaumburg, are the administrative fees for the gift cards that will be given away. Member congregations of the clergy association have donated enough money for about 50 gift cards. Most are MasterCard or Visa gift cards, with some local restaurants represented as well, Enger said.
The event requires the permission of the Schaumburg village board, expected to vote on it Tuesday. But the village's Planning, Building and Development Committee -- made up of half the trustees -- already has recommended approval.