Mankind can be so creative! You want to shout for joy when you hear of a really good creative idea.

The story was out of Macon on Friday, and it addressed several fronts. The headline said a lot: “Macon churches to swap guns for car stereos Saturday.”

Wow!  Now that’s being creative!  Think of it: taking guns out of the hands of people who might use them, and rewarding them with something they consider of value, an automobile stereo!

A Macon stereo outlet, Ken’s Audio and Video, had out up for swap $10,000 in Pioneer auto stereo equipment. The idea was that three churches would act as a go-between and trade a $100 stereo for any usable gun, no questions asked. Macon had had 20 murders this year, five in the last two months.

The idea first came two years ago from Ken Jones, owner of the electronics store.  The program then flopped, when  the Bibb County sheriff stationed one of its vehicles outside the swap site, a recreation center. (Jones had headed the election opposition against that sheriff, and so in 2008, the swap sheriff’s car’s presence killed that swap.)

But this year, it was successful.  “We took in 19 guns,” Jones happily told us Monday, “Including 17 from teenagers. We got two 9mm, and several 38s and 22s, the type of weapons they are using. We also got two guns from guys over 30.” Jones emphasized that the teens were the ones committing a lot of crime. “The kids are not educated. They were our target audience.”

The police could not be involved, since police are bound to arrest anyone who has a gun stolen or used in a crime. Civilian volunteers were on hand to receive the guns, which they turned over to the police department, which will destroy them.

The swap took place Saturday in fellowship halls of  three churches: Tremont Temple Baptist Church, Lizzie Chapel Baptist Church and Covenant  Church of Jesus Christ. All the churches are in high crime areas in West Macon.

Jones got the idea from other cities where swaps were successful.  Now he’s hoping to do it each year. His stereo supplier, Pioneer, is interested, and did a full video of this swap.  “They’re talking about doing it nationwide, and they paid half the cost. It didn’t cost me much personally, and I was glad to do it at the suggestion of the City Council.”

Jones, who hails from Atlanta’s West End, once lived in Snellville, and moved to Macon in 1972.  He’s a former Atlanta policeman, and is partly retired from his electronics store in Macon. He also has an outlet in Warner Robins, and his two sons now operate the businesses..

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The beautiful aspect of the Macon swap program is that it can be duplicated in any community. All you need is a willing stereo dealer (and manufacturer), and a willing community. Let’s hope that the idea gets picked up across the country.

As good as the program is, it does have one drawback. But there’s a way to solve this: perhaps the stereo equipment manufacturer can alter his equipment just a tiny bit….so that the stereo volume can’t be turned up as loud!

But,  yes, we would gladly suffer loud auto stereos to get  more guns off the street.

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Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.