An Indianapolis pizzeria wants to trade pepperoni pies for the pistol in your pocket.
D & C Pizza restaurant owner Donald Dancy is currently working on a plan with local police that's a twist on a typical gun buyback program--patrons could get a free extra-large pizza in exchange for a gun.
“When you pass here right off of 36th and go all of the way down to 25th street and over, it is like a war zone. It is not getting any better,” Dancy told FOX 59 last week. “I can see kids 14 through 18 coming in here and buying a pizza and their guns fall out.”
Multiple attempts from FoxNews.com to reach Dancy at the restaurant were unsuccessful.
But it’s easy to see why he would feel compelled to help the community-- 2015 was the deadliest year in the city’s history with a total of 144 criminal homicides, according to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. That's an increase from 138 in 2014 and just one more than the previous all-time high of 143 in 1998.
But if the numbers are disturbing, the statistics that underlie it are worse. Thirteen of the victims were below the age of 18 and 14 of the suspects were also juveniles. There was also a jump in the amount of nonfatal shootings in the city. That figure increased 24 percent to 447, up from 361 in 2014. It’s also the first time the number rose past 400 in four years.
In 2014 the city ranked ninth out of America’s Top Ten Murder Capitols. Indiana also has the highest rate of black homicide victims in the country, according to a study conducted by the national nonprofit Violence Policy Center. The report, which utilizes FBI homicide data to rank states according to their black homicide victimization rates, said there were 213 black homicide victims in Indiana in 2013 or 34.15 victims per 100,000. That’s double the national black homicide rate. The Center says the overwhelming majority of these were committed with guns, usually hand guns.
The IMPD says that nearly 29 percent of the murders in 2015 were known to be drug related while 28 percent took place within one of the six locations known to be home to a disproportionate amount of crime.
D & C Pizza, located at 38th Street and Sherman Drive, is in one of those six areas.
Similar attempts to get guns of the street in the area, however, have had mixed results. Bishop Damon Roach of First Christian Baptist Church worked with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department in 2013 and 2014 to collect illegal guns, FOX 59 reported. The church used donations, paying up to $600 in exchange for a weapon. But church was vandalized and set on fire after the program. Roach is now concerned that could happen to other businesses trying similar tactics to get guns off the streets-- but isn’t totally opposed to trying again.
“First Christian would gladly open our doors to get guns off of the streets and will volunteer money to get guns off of the streets. I think that it is more of a movement now then it was three years ago,” Roach said.
If the plan is approved, Dancy said he would keep the guns in a safe place until they were picked up by police. Still, despite already having coupons printed for the weapon exchange, D & C Pizza won’t be able to collect any guns just yet. They still need to have a meeting and organize a collection process with the IMPD and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.