‘Show Us Your Guns’ program aiming to get guns off Chatham Co. streets

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 4:31 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Chatham County District Attorney’s Office is introducing a new program that could help steer young people facing gun charges away from traditional prosecution.

The initiative is called ‘Show Us Your Guns,’ and will direct young offenders toward programs to help with housing, resources and employment.

The ‘Show Us Your Guns’ program, being developed by the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office, is geared toward helping young people 16 to 25 who, during interactions with police, are found with guns in their possession.

While they don’t have exact numbers on how frequent those encounters happen, the District Attorney’s Office did give this estimation.

“Anecdotally, a lot. The actual numbers are something that we’re doing as a part of this program. The Vera Institute’s grant, the element of that we receive here in the District Attorney’s Office is actually specifically focused on the data question,” said Michael Edwards, Chief Assistant District Attorney

Edwards says this is part of the D.A.’s strategy to shift from a case to cause mindset, addressing underlying issues instead of sending more people to court.

“These are individuals who at the point of encounter are simply in possession of a firearm. And what can happen in those circumstances is the law enforcement agent can then immediately divert the individual to the Show Us Your Guns program without even affecting an arrest, or they can affect an arrest and then the individual can be referred to the program though either the sheriff’s department or the court system once they arrive there.”

Once someone is admitted into the diversion program, they turn in their gun to law enforcement. Edwards says anyone charged with using the firearm, being a convicted felon, or a non-Chatham County resident will not qualify.

The pilot program is receiving resources and funding through the Vera Institute of Justice, and the DA’s Office is partnering with Savannah Feed the Hungry on the initiative as well.

In addition to the County’s efforts, the City of Savannah has introduced and re-introduced several initiatives to tackle the problem of gun violence this summer.

In May, the City announced their 100 days initiative, calling on parents to be more accountable for their children. The Police Athletic League and the Savannah Impact Program also make a return this summer. And earlier this month, Mayor Johnson announced Mission Minded Men, another initiative with community and faith based organizations to mentor young men.

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