Groceries Not Guns returns to Roanoke and collects 151 firearms

Roanoke, Va. – Groceries Not Guns returned to Roanoke Saturday and collected 151 guns. That’s 60 more firearms compared to last year.

Dozens of Roanoke residents lined up outside of the Melrose Community Center to hand in their guns.

In exchange, gun owners collected either a Kroger or Food Lion gift card.

Kali Hill turned in her unwanted rifle and handgun to receive $150 in return. She said its more than the value of the firearms.

“I didn’t need the firearm. I have my protection otherwise. I don’t need a gun to save my life.”

People were given a $150 gift card if they brought in a shotgun, rifle or revolver.

But if someone brought in a semi-automatic handgun, the owner would receive a $250 gift card.

Last year, the gun buyback program ran out of gift cards. To make it up to them, 47 people were told to arrive an hour earlier to collect their payment.

As a Patrick Henry High School student and president of the Roanoke Branch NAACP Youth Council, Jayveon Tucker said he is tired of seeing children his age fall victim to gun violence.

“We got to get unnecessary guns off the street, especially mental illness too,” he said. “We got just too many guns in the wrong hands.”

Lieutenant Eric Thiel with the Roanoke City Police Department said the effort helps dispose guns properly and keeps them out of the black market.

“A firearm is either unsecured or left out and it gets stolen and then enters the black market and is then used in a crime,” he said.

As a registered nurse and the Roanoke Branch NAACP president, Brenda Hale said she wants to prevent any premature deaths.

While gun violence is still on the rise in the Star City, she said if there is no effort then there is no progress.

“We remain hopeful,” she said. “The fact of the matter is that we are doing something. We are not sitting by just looking at the statistics, just looking at what’s going on. We are making a concerted effort to do something.”

Hale said they gave out a total of $28,750 worth of gift cards.

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