During a warm night in August 2017, Yoni Nadav, owner of Official Unlimited on North Broad Street, woke up suddenly to the sound every father hopes he never has to hear. It was the sound of three men breaking into his home.
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In the chaos that ensued, his two daughters, their grandmother, and his wife were all held at gunpoint while the men looted the home, getting away with “too much,” Nadav says. The whole ordeal took 10 minutes. But now his daughters, who are twelve and twenty-two, feel safer with with the lights on at all times and refuse to sleep in the bedroom where the robbery happened.
“It left me feeling empty,” Nadav says. “Like I failed to protect my family. Their lives changed after that.”
Now, while Nadav works to heal the trauma his family experienced, he’s also working to help lower the chances that members of his community face the same.
This Friday, Official Unlimited, in partnership with the Philadelphia Police Department’s 22nd district, will sponsor the city’s first gun buyback event of 2018. The program, at which Nadav will give a $75 gift card to anyone who safely surrenders a firearm, will run on the property adjacent to Official Unlimited at Broad and York streets from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The day long buyback is a response to both Nadav’s personal experience with gun violence, and the recent demand for more firearm safety in the wake of the February shooting in a Parkland, Fl., high school that killed 17.
With programs like gun buybacks—the last of which was in 2016 in the 14th and 35th police districts of Philadelphia—the hope is to rake in unwanted guns from the community and spark the conversation around gun safety. Police spokesperson Capt. Sekou Kinebrew knows it’s not a quick fix to end gun violence, but believes it is a step toward opening up an important dialogue.
“We’d be fooling ourselves if we believed a gun buyback would be the single cure that’s going to eradicate gun violence,” Kinebrew says. “Our response to gun violence is multifaceted, there’s no one way to stop it, it takes a whole lot of things.”
The 22nd District, spanning about two square miles north of the Art Museum, is home to some of the highest poverty in the city, and some of the highest rates of firearm violence—including 33 homicides last year, more than 10 percent of all the citywide total. In 2017, 679 firearms were stolen across Philadelphia during the course of a crime, some of which include robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and auto theft. Ultimately, these guns land in the hands of people who use them for criminal and violent activity. A gun buyback can help limit the number of unused guns in homes that could end up being a danger to the community if stolen or accessed by children.
The event this Friday will be entirely anonymous, participants can simply bring in the gun, grab a gift card, and be on their way. During the last buyback, the two districts brought in 98 guns, and Kinebrew is hoping to surpass that during Friday’s event.
For Nadav, the thought of saving just one life makes this day worth it. He shared his exhaustion at watching the news and seeing robberies where people steal just $30 or $40 and end up serving 10 plus years in prison. He’s happy to give away $75 gift cards and hopefully draw people in. “In the long run, it’ll be worth it,” he says, “You do something good, you get it back, that’s how I always look at it.”Photo via Flickr (CC0)