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There were shiny six-shooter revolvers, polished wooden rifles, semiautomatic handguns, pistols, rifles and even two hand grenades.

In a citywide effort Saturday to try to curb the violence on Chicago streets, police collected more than 4,000 guns and other weapons in exchange for gift cards worth up to $100.

Residents frustrated by the gun violence that has long plagued their neighborhoods marched through the streets, many of them bereaved mothers who recited poems, sang songs and prayed for an end to the shooting.

“No mother should have to bury a son,” said Vallie Smith, whose son, Mario Hines, 21, was shot to death in March. Hines had been arrested in 2007 for illegally carrying a handgun himself.

His mother joined about 100 demonstrators marching through a patch of Ashburn where there have been several recent shootings. The Southwest Side neighborhood was among 22 sites were guns were collected Saturday, with a total of 4,050 handed in by the end of the day, Chicago police said. Fifty-five were assault weapons, 3,335 were handguns and there were 660 fake replicas.

“We have to get the guns and gangs out of here,” Smith said. “Whoever did this to my son, I hope their mother doesn’t ever have to feel this pain.”

Collecting guns from their owners may seem like a futile effort to skeptics, since those voluntarily turning in their weapons are likely not the ones behind neighborhood violence that has devastated some communities, acknowledged Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis. But the program nonetheless means there are fewer weapons around that could somehow end up in the wrong hands, he said.

Source: Lolly Bowean and Dan Simmons for Chicago Tribune.

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