WATERLOO, Iowa --- Michelle Schilling placed a small stuffed animal at a tree near where a Waterloo teen was fatally shot Jan. 5.
The Waterloo mother hopes another tribute to the fallen high school student will prevent future youth violence.
Schilling wants to get firearms out of the hands of teens, and she's willing to put some money behind her cause. Schilling said she will put up part of her tax refund to launch a gun buyback program in Black Hawk County.
She is also seeking donations to fund her project, which she call Moms Against Guns.
"There's too many kids killing kids," Schilling. "With me being a parent of a teenager, if I'm not part of the solution, I'm part of the problem."
She had been thinking about ways to reduce youth violence for a while, but was spurred by the recent slaying. Her son was acquaintances with Martavious Johnson, the 17-year-old Expo High student who was killed by a single bullet during a brief argument in the 500 block of Sumner Street.
No arrests have been made in the case.
Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson said he talked with Schilling about Moms Against Guns and offered to be the agency to take dispose of the weapons she receives.
Thompson said he likes the fact that MAG would appeal to a younger crowd that likely wasn't reached by prior buybacks. Other projects were one-time events, and although they operated on a "no questions asked" policy, there was a heavy law enforcement presence.
"My focus will be on teens," Schilling said.
She envisions MAG as a continuing endeavor with occasional events hosted at local churches. She plans to pay about $100 for each gun.
Thompson said the guns will be processed and then sent to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations for destruction.
Donations for MAG can be made to Schilling's account at Veridian Credit Union, membership No. 159006814506.
For more information on the program, call Schilling at 215-8811.
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