Guns turned in at buy back become art

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — In an effort to reduce shootings, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office hosted a gun buyback event on Saturday and many lined up. 

Wayne County Sheriff's reserve Deputy Muhsin Muhammad  makes a revolver safe and prepare to tag the piece during the 
Cash For Caliber Gun Buy Back program at the Oak Grove AME Church in Detroit, on Saturday, July 14, 2018.

For five hours, deputies hosted their second annual gun buyback program  at Oak Grove AME Church in Detroit. Residents turned in their weapon for a $50 gift card, funded in collaboration with the Caliber Collection and Caliber Foundation.

The sheriff's office said 126 guns were turned compared to 498 guns turned last year.

Through the Caliber Collection and Foundation, portions of the weapons and case shelling collected from crime scenes are melted down and molded into jewelry and other forms of artwork. The buybacks are funded with proceeds from sales of the Caliber Collection, said founder Jessica Mindich. 

"We started out as jewelry for a cause and it grew to a fight for progress and change," said Mindich, former lawyer and jewelry designer. "Caliber began as an innovative line of jewelry made from guns taken off the streets of Newark and four years later, we're focusing on America's hardest hit cities." 

A box of handguns turned in during the buy back program, including, a 9mm Luger "Tec-9" semi-automatic hand gun.

After hearing about the event on the news, Willie Cotton Sr., 69, sent his son to turn in an old worned down rifle he'd had for years.

"That's the proper way of disposing weapons. So, when I heard about it, I sent him on with it," said Cotton, from Detroit. "With the extra $50, I'll probably buy some spare ribs and have myself a barbeque."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_