Local church holds annual Gifts for Guns exchange



CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Last year, a local pastor collected more than 100 guns during his church's gun exchange. This year, the Rev. John P. Kee said the community support has been overwhelming after last week's shooting at a school in Connecticut.

"We think this is going to be our biggest year," Kee said.

Kee said his efforts to get guns off the streets of Charlotte are working, so well in fact that this year people reached out to him early.

"The last 24 hours has been amazing," Kee said. "They started trying to bring guns two days ago."

It's the sixth year for the Gifts for Guns, an event in the Double Oaks community.

When people went to New Life Fellowship Center and dropped off a gun, they received a gift card in return.

"It's been really successful," Kee said. "When we started everybody thought it was a joke and it wouldn't work, but I've had quite a few copycats around the country."

Kee said the tragedy in Connecticut, where school children and teachers were shot dead, opened everyone's eyes even more to the dangers of guns.

"Something about 20 babies being gunned down, that, I think, got America's attention," Kee said. "So we pray that it makes people think twice about leaving that gun under the bed."

When people show up at the church, they can receive a $20 to $50 gift card for leaving a handgun and a $50 to $100 gift card for assault rifles.

Kee said it's a simple idea to take guns off the street in the hopes of saving lives.

"Everybody's saying we need to have a conversation -- yes we do, but we need to do something about it," Kee said. "If we can get that gun off the street, we can eliminate a crime."

The collection will run until noon Saturday. All the guns will be handed over the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.