More guns come out of attics and off the streets

At yesterday's computers-for-guns swap in East Baltimore, people are looking for skills as well as laptops

guns swap participant

Emma Diggs with the computer she got by turning in an old gun.

Photo by: Louie Krauss

Emma Diggs lives across the street from the McElderry Community Association Center, so she was able to watch yesterday until the line of people waiting in the hot sun to trade guns for laptop computers eased up.

Then she got the handgun that was lying around the house unused for years – “doing nothing” – walked over to the Baltimore city police officers supervising the swap and handed it over.

“I’ve had it for 20 years. When my aunt passed away it was given to me by my nephew,” said Diggs, 75, a retired employee at the Department of Motor Vehicles. She said she plans to take classes at the center on how to use the laptop, a sleek black Hewlett-Packard.

What will she then do with her new computer?

“Play games, look around, keep myself busy,” she said, adding that she is a big supporter of the “Stop Shooting, Start Coding” computers-for-guns initiative co-sponsored by technology entrepreneur Lance Lucas.

The handguns the police collected in the opening hour of the 2014 "Stop Shooting, Start Coding" swap. (Photo by Louie Krauss)

The handguns the police collected in the opening hour of the 2014 “Stop Shooting, Start Coding” swap. (Photo by Louie Krauss)

“It’s a good thing. If you don’t have an alarm and somebody breaks in and takes a gun, that’s a gun that could be used for a crime,” Diggs said. “This is an opportunity to keep that from happening.”

Computer Training

As part of the “Stop Shooting, Start Coding” program, Lucas’ company, Digit All Systems (DAS), will train people to become certified computer technicians. Lucas said there is a full list of participants signed up for the classes to be held at the McElderry center starting August 18.

Lucas was almost as proud of the classroom participation drummed up yesterday as he was of the guns collected (25 of them by the end of four hours.)

Jason Brooks and Lance Lucas at the 2014 "Stop Shooting, Start Coding" event. (Photo by Louie Krauss)

Jason Brooks and Lance Lucas at the 2014 “Stop Shooting, Start Coding” event. (Photo by Louie Krauss)

“We’ve got 50 A+ CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) sign-ups!” he announced last night via text.

Jason Brooks, a University of Maryland Baltimore County student and software developer who teaches coding at Lucas’ company, called programs like the gun swap and computer training “a start.”

“You’ve gotta show people you care, that you believe in them,” Brooks said.

“Look at all the CEOs in tech – Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg. What do they have in common – they’re white men,” Lucas added. “We need to look at ‘How did they get to where they are? What do we need to do?'”

Short Guns, Long Guns, Bullets

As with last summer’s swap, people came yesterday with guns they carried in plastic bags and handbags, one man walking in on crutches, another using a wheelchair.

They brought long guns, handguns and even a box of bullets, turning them in at the door to police officers who secured them with blue plastic ties, tagged them and placed them in a plastic milk crate.

Long guns were brought in along with handguns. (Photo by Louie Krauss)

Long guns were brought in along with handguns. (Photo by Louie Krauss)

The firearms collected yesterday, police said, are the kinds they see being used in connection with crimes. The guns will be examined to determine whether they could be traced to any open criminal investigation and, if not, destroyed.

“My deceased husband had an old gun and I just thought, this would be a great thing to do with it,” said Estella Williams, 53.

A State Highway Administration employee, Williams was eager to use her new laptop for work tasks, replacing one that “died.”

“I do Power Points and Microsoft Office and spreadsheets,” she said. “This is going to really help me with work.”

A retired carpenter who came with a plastic bag containing a 9 millimeter handgun carried with him a deeply serious demeanor. “I really hope they melt it down,” he said.

“It’s one less gun somebody might get ahold of,” the 67-year-old said. “The way people are killing each other around here, this can’t help but be a good thing.”

The guns police colleceted, they said, are the kinds they see being used in connection with crimes. (Photo by Louie Krauss)

Police said the kinds of guns collected yesterday are seen in street crimes. (Photo by Louie Krauss)

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  • ushanellore

    This fad is getting a tad too tiresome–CODING– everybody wants to do it, HAS to do it, already knows it or will learn it.

    GUNS FOR LAP TOPS, LAP TOPS FOR CODING, life as we used to know it is eroding

    Let’s code if we don’t it doesn’t bode too well

    let’s throw away our lives on bits and bytes

    on binary language let’s set our sights

    the coders say the process is intoxicating

    more fantastic than weed it’s addicting

    when you are at it you forget eating and drinking

    you are not aware that your ship may be sinking

    you feel like you’re on top of a mountain

    or on Big Ben looking down on London

    get rid of literature it’s too heavy to fathom

    get rid of poetry it’s too distracting

    if you don’t know how to program a program

    if you’ve never been in a commune of coders

    if you haven’t learned JAVA is not just coffee

    in modern society you’re a freeloader

    the problems to solve are brain defying

    if you can’t write a simple application

    to help a doctor glean his patient’s status

    in his meditation class posing like a lotus

    if you don’t know how to string a language

    to help a fat man figure

    he’s eating too much sandwich

    if you haven’t constructed a glittering web site

    to teach children the virtues of endless coding

    you’re losing your edge and you’re failing

    about you there’s a terrible foreboding

    there’s no place for you in this dimension

    if you’re not the progenitor of a computer invention

    if you haven’t submitted to the metal invasion

    if you can’t hack you’re a sad sack

    you’re even sadder if you can’t prevent the hacking

    for the job market your skills are woefully lacking

    if you can’t teach a machine to do your thinking

    you may as well add some anti freeze to your drinking

    if you have a gun don’t run to turn it in

    keep it to kill a few deer or possum

    or to kill yourself if things get gruesome–

    as they are bound to if you can’t do coding–

    Usha Nellore

  • KnowNothingParty

    What if someone uses one of those sturdy laptop computers to hit someone over their head and rob them – then what? On the flip side what will be said if someone uses one of these laptops to defend themselves against a burglar

    • ushanellore

      A laptop–a shield, a weapon, a friend, a connection. A gun– a member of a collection, a severer of connections and a potential weapon of mass destruction. Lesson? Both can kill but the former can be used to kill one at a time and the latter IS used to kill many at a time. Keep your gun I’ll take my laptop unless you insist I must learn to code. Then you can keep both your laptop and your gun.

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