By Howard Monroe


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Half a dozen guns were surrendered during a gun turn-in program in Philadelphia. While that number seems small, organizers are pleased.

The gun turn-in program began Saturday at locations in West Philadelphia and East Germantown.

“We’re at an epidemic stage at this point. If this is not an urgent situation now based on how many children, now it seems like it’s every week there’s another child being shot,” Bible Way Baptist Church Senior Pastor Damone Jones said.

This year, 110 people under the age of 18 have been shot in the city. In the last three days alone, three children were shot, including an 11-year-old who was grazed while walking in Southwest Philadelphia on Friday.

To get guns off the streets, activists say parents need to check the bedrooms and bags of young adults in their care.

“This is an effort really to appeal to parents, to take on personal responsibility, do these room checks and see if there are guns in their house. And if there is a gun that shouldn’t be in the house turn it in,” community activist Bilal Qayyum said. “We know they’re in the households so we just got to find them and bring them in and get them off the streets.”

“I also do some work at the Philadelphia prisons. There’s a lot of young people who are there because they have handguns. This is an epidemic,” Jones said.

Only a handful of guns were turned in on Saturday, but organizers say getting even one gun off the street is considered a success.

Victoria Greene knows how important it is.

Her son Emir Greene was murdered in 1997 when he was just 20 years old.

She founded the Emir Healing Center in her son’s name. A few guns were turned in there on Saturday.

“People might say, oh that’s not many. But no, it is. It is. Because we’re talking about life and death,” Greene said. “This is a new effort, but I think it’s really going to have some momentum.”

Two more gun turn-ins are scheduled for next Saturday at churches in Nicetown-Tioga and Society Hill.