The Sacramento, California, Police Department gave out gas money as an incentive to get people to turn in their unwanted firearms at a gun buyback event aimed at getting weapons off the streets and out of the hands of children.
Community members were offered a $50 gas gift card per firearm at the “Gas for Guns Buyback” event, held on May 22, which collected 134 firearms from roughly 100 people in just under five hours. The event drew such an overwhelming response that police ran out of gift cards within the first 45 minutes.
According to police, gunowners were not required to reveal their identities at the event. “No questions will be asked. This is a gun buyback program. We don’t want this to get into the hands of children or maybe those who are not supposed to access those firearms,” Sergeant Zach Eaton explained.
Buyback participants were required to bring their guns unloaded and in the trunk of their vehicles. The department reported that they collected one assault weapon, components of privately manufactured “ghost guns” and “multiple other illegally configured firearm.”
Many of those who turned in their guns told police their reasoning was due to a “lack of experience” and “lack of knowledge” with the weapon, as well as difficulties safely storing the weapon.
Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester said the department came up with the idea after the rise in gas prices across the country.
“As a department, we will continue to use innovative ideas to increase the safety of our community,” Lester said. “I truly believe violent crime prevention is a shared responsibility and today’s overwhelming community participation is evidence of the success we can achieve together.”
While Eaton admitted the buyback event may not solve the issue of gun violence, it can be a step in the right direction.
“We don’t think it’s a fixer to gun violence by just doing a gun buyback. But it’s certainly is a piece we can try and think outside the box,” he said.
The NYPD also held a buyback event recently, offering up to $200 in bank cards and iPads for assault rifles and handguns. New York officials say they claimed 69 weapons from the event.