Saluda pastor repurposing community guns in an effort to lower gun violence

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Sunday, August 11, 2019
News 12 at 6 O'Clock

SALUDA, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- A Saluda pastor is going beyond thoughts and prayers for gun violence victims by implementing a gun buy back program in her community.

Rev. Hillary Taylor is a pastor at Bethany-Zoar United Methodist Charge. She got the idea for the buy back program from a pair of Christian authors. The program has been in big cities for some time, but this will be the first one in rural South Carolina.

"Not everybody who has a gun wants one," Taylor said.

The program is simple: if you have a gun that you don't want or don't feel safe having around, Taylor will buy it from you with money donated to the church.

"There are no grants," she said. The program is 100 percent donor-funded."

So what will happen to the guns? Taylor said they won't go to waste.

"We will be taking them and re-purposing them," she said. "For gardening tools and potentially community art."

In the wake of violence, people often send thoughts and prayers. For Taylor, that wasn't enough. She points to the book of James.

"What good is saying, 'Oh, bless you, neighbor,' without actually feeding your neighbor or making sure your neighbor's needs are taken care of?" she said.

Taylor said the response from the community has been mostly good, but some have pushed back.

"There are people who say this is an inappropriate response and it violates Second Amendment rights," she admitted.

To those people, she says the buy back program is voluntary. A gun owner herself, Taylor isn't trying to force anyone to give up a gun. She just wants to make it an option.

The exact date and locations for the gun drop offs haven't been determined, but it will be sometime in September.

This is the first time Taylor has put in this program, but she hopes it won't be the last.

She hopes it will play a small part towards lowering gun violence in America.

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