Advocates say with recent uptick in violence, SF gun buyback event is especially important

This coming weekend gun violence prevention advocates United Playaz in San Francisco will be holding their 10th annual gun buy back. Those buybacks take weapons intended to kill and turn them into something beautiful.

Behind a brightly-colored wall in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood, the United Playaz are preparing to take more guns off the streets. Executive Director Rudy Corpuz Jr. saying he's not anti-Second Amendment. But every gun taken off the street is a potential life saved. 

"Look at the two-year-old killed who had got shot on the freeway," said Corpuz. "What? Last month? Sleeping, minding his own business and people shooting recklessly. Probably not even looking where they were shooting."

With 10 years of gun buy backs under his belt, Corpuz estimates that United Playaz has taken more than 3,500 guns off the streets, as many as 250 of them assault weapons. 

He says his own troubled history with the law educated him as to just how easy it is to get a gun. "They're damn near everywhere you can get them," said Corpuz. "Let alone these ghost guns now, you can order them online."

Pati Navalta knows the devastation guns can cause all too well. In September 2014, her son Robby Poblete died after a shooting. It's a pain she has had to live with since then. 

"He was shot in broad daylight in a busy intersection in Vallejo, California," said Navalta. "You know, it's difficult especially during the holidays. There is really no amount of time that can ease the pain. You know, you get over the shock, but then the pain is always there."

Navalta says her son was on a spiritual journey, working for a biotech company and learning to weld and create metal sculptures when he died. 

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In the years since, his death she's managed to turn her unimaginable grief into purpose, starting a foundation bearing her son's name, the Robby Poblete Foundation, which buys back guns, and turns them into art. 

"[Art] where you're really re-purposing what this metal was for," said Navalta. "So, instead of something that is used to take someone's life away, now it's going to be transformed for something that can inspire."

Corpuz and Navalta are allies now, both knowing the truth, that swords can be made into plowshares, that a weapon of war can can grow into a symbol of peace.

United Playaz will be holding their next gun buyback Saturday, December 11, starting at 8 a.m. at their Howard Street headquarters. They pay $100 for every handgun, $200 for every assault weapon. No questions asked.