76ers, Police Team Up: Tickets for Guns

David West, right, missed last night's Hornets game to be with his wife and baby.
David West, right, missed last night's Hornets game to be with his wife and baby. (By Sue Ogrocki -- Associated Press)
Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The 76ers and police officials announced a program yesterday aimed at curbing gun violence by exchanging tickets for guns.

The one-week program opens today. Anyone can bring a working gun into a city police station and exchange it for a voucher good for a pair of tickets to an upcoming 76ers game, no questions asked.

"If we get one [gun], it's a successful program," said Billy King , the team's president. "If we get one, if we get a thousand, whatever we get that's going to be good enough."

Sitting at a table with 15 guns ranging from semiautomatic rifles to tiny, easily concealed handguns, Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said the program wasn't only for illegal guns. He would be happy if law-abiding citizens turned in their firearms, too.

"Any gun that can kill needs to be taken off the streets," Johnson said.

The city's murder rate spiked last year and is on a similar pace in 2006. There were 380 homicides in the city in 2005 -- the highest total in five years. There were 44 homicides in the city from Jan. 1 through Monday, just slightly off last year's pace.

The program is similar to one the 76ers ran in 1999. "Guns for Gear" brought in close to 900 guns in just three days.

· WEST OUT: Hornets F David West missed last night's game against the Pacers to be with his wife and newborn child, a team spokesman said.

West's child was born last Thursday. West leads the team with 16.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

· SZCZERBIAK INJURED: The Celtics lost G Wally Szczerbiak early in last night's game against the Jazz after he collided with Utah's Milt Palacio in the lane. Szczerbiak was carried from the court by his teammates and departed with a bruised left knee.

-- From News Services

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