Miami-Dade County

Miami bike community puts a spin on gun trade-in event

Officers Luis Gonzalez (right) and Jorge Colina of the Miami Police Department check out a shotgun during a gun buyback program on Saturday, May 30, 2015. Anyone turning in a gun would receive a bicycle, no questions asked; gift cards were also available.
Officers Luis Gonzalez (right) and Jorge Colina of the Miami Police Department check out a shotgun during a gun buyback program on Saturday, May 30, 2015. Anyone turning in a gun would receive a bicycle, no questions asked; gift cards were also available. Miami Herald staff

A day after Critical Mass, one of Miami’s largest monthly cycling events, bike shop owners and Miami police officers gathered Saturday for a gun buyback program in which people traded weapons for wheels.

The “More Bikes Less Guns” project at the Museum Club Tower, 1598 NE First Ave., invited people to bring in firearms and trade them for bicycles. The officers asked neither for names nor any identification — instead, organizers said they wanted to focus on getting as many guns as possible off the street.

“We’re reducing gun violence and at the same time promoting healthy lifestyles,” said Rudy Marquez, managing partner of Loco Cycles.

The idea was the brainchild of Karim Nahim, manager of the Miami Bike Shop, who said he attended a training session that encouraged him to get involved in the community in a notable way.

“I manage the bike shop, so I thought, why not do something that I know,” Nahim said.

He brought the idea to Miami police, who were also brainstorming ways to expand their gun buyback program. Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes said the event was a good way to take advantage of the ever-growing cycling scene in South Florida.

“It was a good beta test,” Llanes said of Saturday’s event. “We were able to incorporate another part of this community in an effort to reduce violence.”

Daniel McDonald, who described himself as a frequent biker, was one of the dozens of people who traded in firearms at the event. He said an older relative had an old unused gun at home, so he decided to bring it in.

“It’s a great way to get guns off the street,” McDonald said.

Gift cards to stores like Target and Walgreens were also available for people who did not want bicycles.

After the trade-in portion of the event, the officers, cyclists and volunteers held a community bike ride.

Nahim said that he hoped to expand the program to other departments across the county and that they had more than 60 bikes to give away Saturday.

“The bike could be for transportation or for your kid, and the object is to remove as many guns as we can,” Nahim said.

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