Churches join fight against gun violence in Savannah

(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah pastors are willing to do their part to fight a growing gun violence epidemic in the Hostess City.

This latest approach to choking off the supply of weapons comes with Alderman Van Johnson's announcement of a new community initiative to buy back guns that are ending up in the wrong hands.

Gun buybacks went away after the state told police they couldn't destroy the guns they collected anymore, but instead just sell them back to gun dealers. This new initiative gets around state law and allows us to destroy them again.

Police lights and yellow tape, a sign of another shooting or robbery. Even worse, another homicide. Many pastors forced to sit and watch.

"It has been a heartbreaking situation to behold," said Reverend Dr. George Lee III, St. John Baptist Church.

In many cases, the victims and offenders not even 20 years old. Some lives lost, others destined for a life behind bars.

"Community, church, and civil government must be willing to come together," Dr. Lee said.

Tuesday, finally a step in that direction with the announcement of a new gun buyback initiative in Savannah.

"The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. This is a step in the right direction," Dr. Lee said.

The goal: To target young men with guns and convince them to get rid of them.

"Most of them just need somebody in their life to love them and help them and paint a picture for them to show them what their life could be if they follow a good path," said Kingdom Life Christian Fellowship Pastor Charles Roberson.

Pastors now play a valuable role in the fight against gun violence. Their churches now are becoming safe places to drop these guns off. And because they are not law enforcement, they can destroy the guns they collect.

"It is out of our comfort zone, but I'm willing to do anything possible to help my community be a better community and these young people's lives to be saved," said Roberson.

Roberson and Dr. Lee hope that by opening their doors, they also open the eyes of these people.

"They need spiritual and physical nurturing and support. We are here to provide that support mechanism to bring us out of this dark hole of violence," said Dr. Lee.

"Education, government, they can work on the head. They can't change the heart. Churches work on the heart," said Dr. Roberson.

While the effects of this buy-back plan are unknown, these pastors know their participation and willingness to help will make a positive difference.

Both of these men tell me the biggest thing they want to offer is hope and a vision for a life not dependent on gangs, drugs and violence.

They were more than appreciative of Alderman Johnson stepping up to do this.

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