City hosting gun buyback in partnership with Pillsbury United Communities

Decommissioned weapons will be used for art project

Guns in the hands of artists Minneapolis MNThe City of Minneapolis is partnering with Pillsbury United Communities on a gun buyback at two Minneapolis fire stations Saturday, Aug. 27—an initiative that will decommission the weapons for a community-wide art project examining the impact of gun violence.

People can drop off guns anonymously at Fire Station 14, 2002 Lowry Ave. N., and Station 17, 330 E. 38th St., from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. They will receive $25 to $300 Visa gift cards depending on the type and condition of firearm.

The decommissioned guns, which will no longer be operable, will be given to local artists for a new campaign called “Art is My Weapon: a Minnesota Installation of Guns in the Hands of Artists.” A call for artists will be posted at www.ArtIsMyWeapon.org. The project will build on the work of the national exhibit, “Guns in the Hands of Artists,” recently showcased at Pillsbury United Communities.

Mayor Betsy Hodges said the arts have the power to elevate understanding of the scourge of gun violence.

“The arts are where we come together as a city and as a people: It is where we show interest in each other, where the best of us shows up,” Hodges said. “The arts are also where we can have a transformative effect on the conversation in Minneapolis and across America about gun violence and the need to end it. I am very excited that we can creatively use the tool of a gun buyback to fuel this vital conversation through the arts.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau said the project has the potential to personalize the problem.

“Some may see a 60-second story on the news and move on, but the effects of gun violence are devastating and everlasting,” she said. “What I like about this initiative is it is deeply personal and it brings attention and emotion to a societal issue that really affects us all. The current cycle of gun violence requires a community solution and this will be more than a conversation starter.”

Council Member Blong Yang thanked Pillsbury United Communities for their leadership on the gun buyback program.

“The gun violence plaguing the Northside has to be addressed creatively and collectively. I hope that this buyback will get dangerous weapons off of the streets of North Minneapolis and turn them into art,” he said.

Council Member Cam Gordon noted that of the 22 homicides in the city this year, all but one involved a handgun. Twelve of the shooting victims were under 26 and the youngest was 2.

“So far this year 226 people have been a victim of a gunshot wound, an increase of 46 percent from last year,” Gordon said. “This initiative is a great way to get guns out of our homes and off the street and bring attention and energy to this crisis.”

Chanda Smith Baker, president and CEO of Pillsbury United Communities, lost a cousin to gun violence.

“This issue is personal for me, and unfortunately it is personal for many across our community,” she said. “There are too many Minnesotans losing their lives to street violence, suicide, domestic violence and accidental shootings. We are unwilling to look the other way, believing that there’s nothing we can do—but rather we will continue to do our part to make our community safer. We have a public health crisis with gun violence. It affects all of us, and we all must be part of the solution.”

Pillsbury United Communities, which works with people throughout Minneapolis to build resilience and self-sufficiency, is accepting donations for the buyback program at www.puc-mn.org/art-my-weapon.