The last time Houston had a gun buyback program was in 2000 and C.O. Bradford was chief of police. Bradford is now city councilmember for At-Large Position 4. He says the program was very successful.
“And by success I mean this: We were able to get some guns that people had in their homes that they were no longer using. Maybe someone had passed and the weapon was just left there. In some cases, there were guns that people had several and they really didn’t need as many as they had in their home.”
Those who surrendered their guns received gift certificates from Houston area retailers. While buyback programs are not likely to get criminals to give up their weapons, Bradford says fewer guns in homes reduces the possibility of having them stolen.
“Guns are very frequently stolen in burglaries. Whether that is burglaries in homes, businesses and today more so automobiles. A lot of people leave their firearms in the car, and when the cars are burglarized, the weapons are taken. So it’s very prominent for criminals to steal their guns in burglaries today and use those guns in subsequent crimes.”
In Arizona, a state known for its very liberal gun laws, a new law requires cities and counties to sell guns that were surrendered as part of buyback events.
Bradford says laws like that defeat the purpose of reducing the number of guns in a community. But he also says that buyback programs do nothing to reduce violent crime. Although, that’s not its purpose.
“It’s an excellent way to encourage people to think about the weapons you have in your car, in your home, in your apartment, in your business. Are you maintaining it? Are you storing it safely? If not, a buyback is an opportunity for you to turn that gun in.”
Even so, Bradford is not trying to advocate for another buyback program in Houston. He says focusing on combating violent crimes is a higher priority.
And he wants citizens to have guns to defend themselves, as long as they’re trained and properly maintain and secure their weapons.