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Hoagies-for-guns proves fruitless & authorities aren't surprised

The bullet holes on the front of Raseesha Brightman's Point Breeze house are a painful reminder of the day her friend was killed by two men with assault rifles.

The bullet holes on the front of Raseesha Brightman's Point Breeze house are a painful reminder of the day her friend was killed by two men with assault rifles.

Early that morning of June 3, two men riddled her home on 21st Street near Titan with bullets as she and five others, including victim Joseph Addison, 22, sat on the stoop.

"The gun was thundering," said Brightman, 23. "It's never going to be out of my mind."

Three days later, Richard Pagliarella opened the second location of his Ricci Bros. Hoagies shop on the same corner where Addison was shot multiple times.

Feeling compelled to do something, Pagliarella offered two hoagies, a soda and chips for each firearm brought to the store last week.

"I was hoping we would get one [gun], save one life and have one less gun on the street," Pagliarella said.

But they received none.

Gun-buyback programs are used nationwide to reduce the number of illegal guns with police, community organizations and businesses offering incentives in exchange for guns, no questions asked.

But some - as Pagliarella found out - work better than others.

Melchezedek Wells, who was once involved in a life of crime himself, said he would have never turned in his gun for a hoagie or groceries.

Instead, the president of One Day at a Time Recovery Inc. said the programs should offer life-changing incentives - like a job.

"Their gun is a way of living," Wells said. "We need to do something to cater to the needs of these guys."

Ray Jones, the executive director of Philadelphia Safety Net, a nonprofit antiviolence organization, said there is a science to running a successful gun-buyback program.

"You just can't jump out there and say, 'Hey, bring your guns,' " Jones said, adding that proper funding, the right incentive and advertising all play major roles.

Jones has partnered with businesses and radio stations and has collected more than 5,000 guns since 2007. For each firearm, residents receive a $100 Brown's Family ShopRite gift card.

Other programs like the "Turn in Your Gun Campaign" in Southwest Philadelphia offered gift cards, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 video consoles.

They collected 35 guns last month, including two from a nervous mom who said she found them in her son's closet.

But some question whether the programs get to the root of gun violence.

"Who really is it that's turning in the gun? If it is a way of life to someone a few dollars is not going to change that," said Dan Gross, CEO of PAX, a national nonprofit gun-violence-prevention organization in New York.

Gross said the programs are superficial, adding that more of an effort needs to be made to change social norms such as the stop-snitching culture.

As of June 30, 768 people had been injured or killed in gun violence this yearin the city.

"You can't deny the fact that Philadelphia has a whole bunch of guns on the street," said Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross. "Our No. 1 concern in this city is gun violence, period."

Policerecovered more than 5,000 firearms in 2006 and this year had recovered 1,920 firearms through June.

Police officials admit that the majority of guns are not turned in by criminals but by family members and friends who want to get the guns out of the house.

"The bad guys don't give me their guns," Jones said. This program "reduces the pool of guns that get stolen and wind up in the hands of bad guys."