City of Houston

Houston, Harris County announce gun buyback event with new stipulations

Officials say they will be cracking down on “ghost guns” after a large amount of the weapons were dropped off at the first gun buyback event.

Office of Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis
More than 800 guns were collected Saturday during a gun buyback event held at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, 3826 Wheeler Ave.

City of Houston and Harris County leaders announced on Monday that they have joined together to invest over $2 million in funds into upcoming gun buyback events.

The second gun buyback event will be on Saturday, Oct. 8 from 8 a.m. until noon at the METRO Park and Ride at 11050 Harwin Drive in Alief.

The event is part of Mayor Sylvester’s Turner One Safe Houston Initiative – to reduce violent crimes throughout the city.

The event allows citizens to turn in firearms for gift cards ranging from $50 – $200.

Officials say they will be cracking down on "ghost guns" – privately manufactured guns that can't be traced to a manufacturer – after a large amount of the weapons were dropped off at the first gun buyback event in order to receive gift cards that are worth more than the amount it costs to make the gun. Officials said they would accept ghost guns, but participants should not expect a gift card for dropping them off.

Officials also said they would add multiple lines, after the last event was expected to end at noon, but lasted hours longer and did not end until 7 p.m.

The City of Houston hosted its first gun buyback event in late July at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Third Ward in partnership with HPD, Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Elis. The city collected 845 firearms and distributed up to $100,000 in gift cards.

According to a press release from the city, due to the overwhelming response from citizens – more than 150 people were given a future voucher for the next gun buyback event.

"The turnout demonstrates there are too many guns on our streets, and people want to get them out of their possession," Mayor Turner said in a press release.

Last month, Houston City Council approved over $500,000 of ARPA funds for Blackhawk Network Inc, to load gift cards for future gun buyback programs.

Although some considered the event a success – there was major backlash from the Harris County District Attorney's Office. David Mitcham, the assistant to Harris County DA Kim Ogg, expressed concerns on whether the event is effective enough for solving crimes.

The Houston Police Department collected guns with a-no-questions asked policy. They checked to see if the guns collected were stolen or used in a crime – which would be returned to the owner or collected as evidence.

This month Harris County Commissioners approved $1.1 million at its September 13th meeting to host eight gun buyback programs in an effort to reduce gun violence, suicides and accidental deaths caused by firearms.

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