Metro-Detroit Episcopal church calls for freeze on firearm disposal, halt on efforts to recycle guns

Posted Dec 13, 2023

[Diocese of Michigan] The church where more guns have been collected in Oakland County, Michigan, than anywhere else in recent history, is asking city, county, and state authorities to stop a cache of firearms recently donated by citizens, from going to a disposal company that profits from these donations.

“It’s simply wrong that the many people who purposely came to our church to see guns destroyed, would instead see them recycled,” said the Very Rev. Chris Yaw, rector of St. David’s and a buyback organizer. “Therefore, today we are sending letters to our city, county, and state authorities asking them to hold onto these weapons until arrangements can be made for them to be completely destroyed. People donated these guns to make our community safer, not to a corporation richer.”

Preliminary tallies at the Dec. 9 gun buyback at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Southfield indicate: 224 were guns taken in, including 133 handguns and 87 long guns. Nearly $19,000 was given away in gift cards. Fourteen months earlier the church took in 117 guns as part of a county-wide, four-location buyback.

The church is taking these actions following a months-long New York Times investigation into gun disposal methods by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Mike McIntire, which featured St. David’s on the front page. The article revealed an open secret: that states and municipalities, like Michigan, choose not to dispose of donated firearms, but to save money by allowing a third party to take the guns for free, break them down, and then sell expensive parts on the internet.

“We are doing all we can to see that these weapons meet the fate intended by their donors,” said the Rt. Rev. Bonnie Perry, bishop of the Diocese of Michigan, “The good people who gave us their weapons are under the assumption they would be destroyed not recycled, and we will work hard to see that this in fact, will happen, as soon as possible.”

St. David’s has partnered with the Oakland County Board of Commissioners and the Southfield Police Department in its efforts.  The church has been serving the people of Metro Detroit since March 2, 1952. The church held its first gun buyback in October of 2022 and, along with four other sites, took in 353 guns.