Trade your gun for pizza? Indiana restaurateur hopes to reduce crime with free pies
There's no denying that gun violence is a major issue in the U.S., where it's nearly impossible to get through calendar week without a mass shooting incident. While lawmakers struggle to fix the problem, one restaurant owner is taking matters into his own hands.
Donald Dancy, the owner of D&C Pizza in Indianapolis, is offering customers who bring in a gun off the street a free extra large pizza, Fox 59 reported. Dancy doesn't plan on keeping the guns: He said he will hold them in a safe place until the police can come pick them up.
The area surrounding his pizza shop is "like a war zone," Dancy told the news station. "I can see kids 14 through 18 coming in here and buying a pizza and their guns fall out." He hopes to convince them to trade their weapons for carbs.
While the promotion sounds odd, Dancy said he believes the trade can have a major impact on local crime rates. "If a person can turn in a gun, that's one less gun we've got on the streets," Dancy told WTHR. "That's still one less gun [on the street] — that I could save a life."
The trade sounds simple in theory, but could it actually be effective? While pizza is delicious, it's hard to imagine a person would be willing to trade in a gun, which can be worth hundreds of dollars, for a pie, which conventionally costs around $20. From an economic standpoint, the trade lacks common sense.
Still, Dancy's idea has the potential to be somewhat successful, Ervin Staub, a psychology professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of The Roots of Goodness and Resistance to Evil, said in an email.
"There are two forces that can lead young people to give up their guns in exchange for pizza," he explained. The first is reciprocity: "People tend to return kindness directed at them." So the intention of kindness by this restaurant owner may lead some people to act kindly themselves and do what he asks.
The second force involves the fact that some kids actually want to give up their guns, but need an excuse to do so. The pizza may fulfill this need, Staub said.
But the exchange, even if it works, is a limited solution. "While this hopefully will work with some people, it will probably not for many who have varied reasons to keep their guns," Staub said.
While the pizza shop owner is working with police to see his plan through, his efforts could potentially mark his shop as a target for violence and disruption: Townspeople who know about the well-intentioned plan may look at the restaurant as an opportunity for acquiring firearms.
When Damon Roach, a bishop at a local Indianapolis church, worked with the police department to get guns off of the street in 2013 and 2014, some sought to retaliate, Fox 59 noted. His church used donations to pay people up to $600 in exchange for their weapon. Soon after, the church was vandalized and set ablaze.
Is Dancy's pizza exchange a recipe for disaster? Only time will tell. Other local businesses and churches are interested in following D&C Pizza's lead, but know it will not be that easy to get guns off the street, Fox 59 noted. Mic has reached out to Dancy for comment.