Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl says the city will team up with several community groups to co-sponsor a gun buyback program for Evanston residents from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15.

The event will take place at Christ Temple Missionary Baptist Church, 1711 Simpson St.

Guns brought to the buyback must be unloaded, in operational condition and participants must have proof of Evanston residency. Examples of proof of residency include a piece of mail, Evanston Public Library card, student ID or a government-issued ID.

This is an amnesty-based buyback program and no police enforcement action will be taken as a result of someone turning in a firearm.

Participants are encouraged to bring in ammunition, ammunition clips, and magazines, but kept separate from the weapon at all times. Weapons should be transported in the trunk of a vehicle or in an inaccessible area of a van or pickup truck.

There is a two-gun limit and participants in the buyback program will receive cash for each firearm. The program will operate on a first come, first served basis and will end at the designated time or when all funds are exhausted.

If an Evanston resident wishes to participate in the gun buyback program, but is unfamiliar or uncomfortable with handling a firearm, they can call 311 for assistance and an officer will come out to the residence to retrieve the firearm. Amnesty will still apply for this type of request.

If a participant wishes to receive a receipt indicating that the weapon is no longer in their possession for record keeping purposes, they will then be asked for additional information.

In addition to their organizational efforts and $1,000 contribution to the program, the Evanston Community Foundation has established a fund to accept residents’ contributions in support of the program at or by mail to: Evanston Community Foundation, 1007 Church St. Suite 108 Evanston, IL 60201.

“I would like to thank the Evanston Community Foundation for their efforts in helping organize this important community event along with their generous financial support,” Tisdahl said in a statement. “I would also like to thank Evanston resident Carolyn Murray for suggesting the idea, Northwestern University, the Cherry Family Foundation and NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Evanston Hospital for their help and most generous financial support that will go far in removing dangerous weapons off our streets and protecting our innocent youth from gun violence.”

“There is no instant or single solution to the problem of gun violence, nor any way to undo the losses we have already suffered. The Foundation has responded to the mayor’s request for assistance in the hope that our community can decrease residents’ access to guns in moments of anger or fear and that we can demonstrate our shared resolve to prevent violence,”  said Sara Schastok, President and CEO of the Evanston Community Foundation.

Northwestern University has donated $10,000, NorthShore Evanston Hospital has donated $1,000 and the Cherry Family Foundation has donated $5,000 to the program.

“We’re pleased to partner with the City of Evanston, the Evanston Community Foundation and others to provide funding for this program,” said Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro. “We appreciate Mayor Tisdahl’s leadership and the work of the Evanston Police Department in their efforts to help keep Evanston safe for everyone, including members of the Northwestern community.”

“We are committed to demonstrating our leadership to preserve and improve human life,” explained Douglas Silverstein, President of NorthShore Evanston Hospital. “In an effort to extend NorthShore’s mission, we applaud and support the City of Evanston’s continuing efforts to prevent violence and ensure a safe community environment for all citizens.”

“The Cherry Family Foundation is responding to the Mayor’s call for the reduction of weapons in order to reduce the potential of violence in the City of Evanston,” said David Cherry.

Firearms are a potential hazard in any home, the mayor said. They can be stolen, used in an accidental shooting or a suicide. When guns are used in criminal attacks, the outcomes are often irreversible and fatal.

And when guns are used to settle disputes, it  can have a devastating impact on communities and innocent victims, she added. The access and availability of firearms is associated with an increased risk of suicide in the home.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Why is the root cause of gun violence never discussed?

    A generation ago, shocked Evanstonians held meetings and marched after 14-year-old Marchelle Gibbs was gunned down in a gang-related drug dispute over a small amount of marijuana. The shooter, an ETHS student and gang member, fired into a crowd.

    Sound familiar?

    The same year Marchelle was gunned down in 1992, a "model" ETHS student, Thomas Vanden Berk, was shot through the heart when he was caught in the crossfire of a gang-related gun battle at a Rogers Park party.

    The following year, another ETHS gang member fired into a crowd and killed Taisha Harrington.

    Back then, people said we need more community centers, more jobs, take guns off the streets, provide safe houses for gang members who wanted out, etc.

    The year was 1992 and police then said they identified 450 gang members, far less than what we have now. Police began Working to Eliminate Drugs and Gangs in Evanston (WEDGE). Not even sure if the program is still in place. 

    So here we are 20 years later, and a new generation of gangbangers are doing the same thing. 

    More meetings were held. More of the same ideas were discussed. But the root cause of this violence is NEVER discussed.

    The root cause is two-pronged – kids growing up in single parent households who then join gangs for the glamour, the glory and the father figures they never had. There is a direct co-relation between poverty, crime and drug abuse and single parent households that transcends race. 

    The problem is worse in the black communities because a larger perecntage of babies are born out of wedlock. Today in this generation, 75 percent of black babies are born to unwed mothers. 

    How many more Gibbs, VandenBerks, Harringtons and Colemans must we endure until our leaders focus like a laser on the true cause of gun violence? You can buy back all the guns you want but unless the number of babies born out of wedlock decline it will be the same as it ever was.

    Thomas VandenBerk Sr. in all these years after the death of his son has fought to take guns off the street. I'm sure that has helped and I applaud his work. According to news reports, when his son asked permission to go to the party, he was asked if there would be gangbangers there. The son said, "No, they don't like hip-hop music."

    I just wonder how naive we are in this generation.

    1. Well said

      I concur that the energy spent does little to resolve the underlying issues.  I understand the gun buy-back logic and the impulse to do something, but honestly, solutions to these problems are not going to come from the nice people at the Evanston Community Foundation, or from city government, or any other outside group.  These issues don't continue to exist because good people don't care enough – they exist because honest conversations don't happen enough.    

      The entrenched social problems that lead to violence large and small will not go away with a gun buy-back or more cops on the streets (but wouldn't it be nice if they would).  The social problems I speak of include poverty, household violence, chronic anger, addiction, mental illness, lack of education, and most of all, people struggling with any of these issues becoming parents and perpetuating the cycle. 

      But to talk about these things offends people, and if there's one thing we don't do in Evanston, it's offend people.

    2. Blaming single parents

      Except that the most recent youth accused of murder was the product of a two-parent household

    3. IMpact of Marriage on Society


        There is a fabulous book by Charles Murray titled "Coming APart at the Seams: the state of White AMerica 1960-2010" that goes along with your viewpoint.  However, Murray looks at statistics rates for caucasians only in order to take race completely out of the equation.   Murray considers the "traditional" American values of "marriage, hard work, honesty, and religiosity,"  and through statistical data shows that America has become a divided nation by class. The divide goes above and beyond just money, and extends into these four areas. He then goes on to show the impact upon society, with increasing violence just one impact.   

      Here is a short write up in the Wall Street Journal:


  2. “Root causes” of educational issues not discussed either


    You address a critically important issue. Unless and until you address the root cause of any issue, the problem will not be solved. A lot of time, energy and money will get spent on gun violence, yet very little progress will be made.

    A very similar perspective is also present regarding educational issues in Evanston. A lot of time, energy and money is spent on issues that don't address the root cause. There is no one cause or one solution, but until our School Boards and Administrations are ready, willing and able to have frank discussions and address the root causes, we're just spinning our wheels and we won't get the results we all desire.

    Sad but true


  3. Root cause of gun violence is guns!

    Good grief! The root cause of gun violence is the availability of guns! They're dangerous! All the other causes mentioned certainly contribute to violence, but a gun is a far more lethal weapon than any other common weapon.

    Cook County President Preckwinkle is on the right track when she proposed taxing bullets. The Supreme Court may have upheld the right to bear arms, but government can still punitively tax ammunition like cigarettes.

    A high tax now would also suddenly increase the value of all the bullets already out there. Perhaps their high cost will deter their firing…

    1. Stupid tax

      The high tax affects only the responsible citizen sportsman who shoots at a range, hunts etc.  The cost of the 3 or 4 cheap bullets needed by the common criminal, the tax for the one bullet that causes a killing, will not be a whit of deterrent to a gangbanging criminal.  Good grief, nothing more than empty wishful thinking.   

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