PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 20, 2011 Instead of getting a jump start on last-minute Christmas shopping on a brisk sunny mid-December Saturday morning, men and women of all ages lined up along 58th Street well before 10 a.m. to turn in their guns to police.

State Sen. Anthony H. Williams, Uplift Solutions, Safety Net and ShopRite on Dec. 17 held the most successful gun buy back event in several years in Southwest Philadelphia in their ongoing effort to curb gun violence on the city’s streets.

Williams is a longtime ardent and active supporter of implementing actions to reduce gun violence and improve the quality of life for the community. The line of weapons outside was a sharp contrast to the line of children waiting to enter a Christmas bazaar inside the Francis Myers Recreation Center at the same time.

“The children who came with their families to enjoy a fun day at the recreation center are the number one reason why we need to get guns off the streets,” said Williams.

The 12th Police District and SWAT officers took possession of 279 handguns and rifles. The 279 weapons included 81 long arms and shotguns; 184 handguns; and14 starter pistols and bb guns. Only three handguns collected were identified as in stolen status. The 279 guns are more than double the 131 guns collected at this event in the 12th Police District in 2010.

ShopRite gave everyone who turned in their guns $100 gift cards to help families with their holiday meals.

“I am tremendously proud of the citizens of Philadelphia for joining me in this effort to rid our streets of guns,” said Williams.

There are 313 homicides so far in Philadelphia this year — 24 more compared to this time last year, according to statistics from the Philadelphia Police Department.

“Mothers and fathers understand that gun violence tears apart families,” said 12th District Captain Kevin Hodges. “I commend everyone who turned in a firearm for partnering with Senator Williams, Congressman Fattah, Uplift Solutions, Safety Net, ShopRite and the Philadelphia Police Department to protect lives.”

“We can talk about preventing violence all we want, but at the end of the day, we need to get guns off the streets so people can live without fear and neighborhoods can thrive,” Williams said.

Under Williams’ leadership, approximately 400 guns have been removed from the streets of the 8th Senatorial District in 2011.

This is the third in an ongoing series of gun buy backs that the senator has hosted throughout the 8th Senatorial District in 2011 in conjunction with local organizations and law enforcement officials. The senator’s two previous gun buy back events, as part of his successful “Neighborhood to Neighborhood (N2N) 2011 Summer of Peace” campaign, brought in nearly 100 guns.

Williams pledged to continue to work with his community, corporate partners and the police to take more guns off the streets in 2012.