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Support needed for gun buy back program

By Ed Brock

ebrock@news-daily.com

Bob Hartley wants to get some guns off the street, but he needs the community's help.

Hartley, a member of the Ministers Action Outreach and concerned Clayton County parent, is trying to raise money for a gun buy back program he has scheduled for Aug. 6. He's urging those who want to help to go to any Suntrust Bank and donate to the Clayton County Gun Buy Back Fund.

"Right now the only money we have in there is the ($100) we started with," Hartley said, adding that he contributed that money. "It's kind of disheartening. It's such a good initiative."

The plan is to pay $50 for every operable weapon brought to the buy back, no questions asked. Hartley said he's even looking for a neutral location from which to collect the guns so the people bringing them in won't be intimidated by having to go to police headquarters.

Of course, the Clayton County Police Department and Sheriff's Office have agreed to help with the program, Hartley said.

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill said his office would provide technical support to make sure the guns aren't stolen and haven't been used in a crime. In fact, his office is obliged to help with such programs.

"Every now and then you might find a gun that was involved in a murder," Hill said.

The police department would likely help to dispose of the weapons properly, Clayton County Police Capt. Jeff Turner said.

Turner and Hill said any program that gets guns off the street can be productive.

"Those handguns could end up in the hands of kids or the wrong people," Turner said.

Hartley's initial goal is to remove 1,000 guns from the streets, and that would require him to raise $50,000.

Hartley has been visiting county leaders and area churches to drum up support for the program. He's scheduled a "Silence the Violence" rally for July 2 at Skatezone on Mt. Zion Boulevard to raise funds for the program and to hand out information to parents on gangs and teen violence.

"I think parents are behind the eight ball on this," Hartley said.

Hartley attended several community meetings after the April 23rd shooting death of Mundy's Mill High School student Larry Bishop, Jr. at a party. That shooting is believed to be gang related.

He also has proposed a 10-point plan to eradicate teen violence and with the Ministers Action Outreach he tries to mentor at-risk youths.

"We just talk to them and try to be positive male role models," Hartley said.

Hartley's son attends Jonesboro High School, so his concern is personal as well.

The gun buy back has received support from Clayton County Juvenile Court Judge Steve Teske, the Son's of Solomon 150 Masonic Lodge and State Rep. Darryl Jordan, D-Riverdale.