BESSEMER, Ala. (WIAT) — Gun violence continues to claim lives in our area, but several organizations are working together to bring awareness and combat the problem.

Bessemer community leaders hosted a gun buyback Saturday. Community members who turned in guns received gift cards in exchange.

“And it’s not only just taking the guns off the street,” said Lynneice Washington, the Jefferson County District Attorney for the Bessemer Cutoff. “Saving lives is so important but also giving awareness about guns and gun safety.”

Faith based ministries also handed out gun safety information and gun safety locks. These are actions Pastor Jonathan McPherson Jr. said are necessary in order to see change.

“So, we have to go out and we have to put our money where our mouth is,” said McPherson Jr., who serves at World Overcomers Christian Church. “We have to put action to what we say and go out and do all that we can to get as many guns off the street.”

Washington said an overwhelming number of community members came through, handing over 120 guns total.

“Any initiative to save a life to bring awareness to bring education about guns — guns are not bad, it’s just the people that handle them,” Washington said. “So, we want to bring that awareness and just make our community safer.”

McPherson Jr. said continuing this momentum is key.

“We want to continue this so that in the future, we can do even more,” McPherson Jr. said. “We’ll reach out to more churches more businesses and private citizens. And now that they see that we’ve accomplished this one and see how successful it was, I believe we can get even more support next time.”

The guns collected at the buyback will have their serial number recorded and then be destroyed.