A Flatbush man of the cloth recently saw firsthand how swords can be beat into plowshares.
Father Michael Perry said he heard about the recent initiative where six churches would be used for a one-day gun-buyback program and offered up his parish, Our Lady of Refuge Church, 2020 Foster Avenue at the corner Ocean Avenue, as one of the drop-off points.
Under the program, residents receive a $200 bank card for every weapon they bring in – no questions asked.
Perry, an active member of the 70th Precinct clergy liaison team, said the precinct’s community relations department told him about the program and he immediately signed on.
“They said ‘great’ and it was that simple. We advertised it around, and put signs and posters on the street,” said Perry, adding that police officials came in on the day in question at 8 a.m. to set up tables and they opened for business from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What Perry didn’t realize was how successful the program would be. Sixty-five guns were turned in at the parish.
“I met a man from a very different neighborhood from ours who came with nine guns. I said, ‘What are you doing? You only have two hands,’” recalled Perry.
Perry said only three guns per person were allowed to be taken so he presumed the man went to other parishes to turn in the others.
Perry said the way the program worked at the church was residents who brought in guns were given tickets, while police made sure the guns were not loaded and working.
“Then 15 minutes later you walk out with a $200 money card run through one of the banks,” he said.
Officials from the Kings County District Attorney’s office said that 411 guns, rifles, shotguns and sawed-off shotguns were collected at six southern Brooklyn churches during the one-day gun-buyback program.
Guns collected included 117 revolvers, 86 semi-automatic handguns, nine sawed-off shotguns, five assault weapons, 94 rifles, 55 shotguns and 45 various other weapons.
The guns will be put through ballistic tests, and then melted down and reborn as wire hangers, said Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes.
But for Perry, who was honored with a certificate at the recent 70th Precinct Community Council meeting for allowing his parish to be used for the program, the experience was a real eye-opener.
“In our community we have so many people who read the Jewish scriptures as well as the Christian scriptures, and we’re all familiar with the biblical words, ‘They will beat their swords into plowshares,’” said Perry.
“This was the modern version except instead of making plowshares they make coat hangers out of these guns,” he added.