Houstonians will have another opportunity to sell their unwanted firearms next month. City and county officials are hosting another gun buyback event they hope is successful as previous ones.
Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis announced on Tuesday details of the next gun buyback event – which takes place Saturday June 10th at NRG Park in the Yellow lot, 9051 South Main Street – with more money and more lanes to accommodate an expected large turnout.
This will be the fourth gun-buyback event the City of Houston and Harris County have hosted and officials said 2,800 unwanted firearms have been collected so far from the first three events.
"June the 10th will be the largest one that we have had," said Mayor Turner. "So that’s our hope that people will really participate and this is an opportunity for people themselves to participate."
The event will be from 8 a.m. to noon. Residents can turn in unwanted firearms and receive gift cards ranging from $50 to $200 depending on the type of firearm collected and if it’s still functioning. "Ghost guns" with no serial numbers or privately manufactured guns will not be accepted at the event.
There have been questions on whether or not gun buyback programs are successful and city officials said they're working.
"I know someone is going to criticize the program as they’ve done in the past, but the truth is gun buybacks worked as one tool in a comprehensive initiative to fight gun violence," Turner said. " It’s unfortunate we can't deal with it on the front end because we would love to have gun background checks and reasonable gun laws put in place – so we have to do everything on the back end to try to remove as many unwanted guns off our street."
The gun buyback started as part of the Mayor's $72 million Crime Reduction Initiative, One Safe Houston, which also focuses on domestic violence, mental health, and overtime for the Houston Police Department. The city and county have both allocated $1 million in federal funding towards the gun buyback program which is only one of many initiatives officials said they are using to reduce crime.
"As the mayor alluded to, there have been questions about gun buybacks and whether or not they’re effective at improving public safety," said Commissioner Rodney Ellis. "After three wildly successful buyback events, one thing is not up for debate,and that is that this community is ready to be a part of the solution to end gun violence."
The event is "no questions asked", and residents can remain anonymous while turning in firearms. HPD will not ask for any personal information, or check to see if anyone has any warrants or records. HPD will check to see if any guns have been stolen or used in a crime.
"We don’t go and sell the collected guns, we are not repurposing them," said Houston Police Chief Troy Finner. "They are taken up to be destroyed after they go through the proper checks."
Commissioner Ellis said with gun laws being very laxed in the state, officials have to find ways to keep its residents safe.
"We all deserve to feel safe in our homes, neighborhoods, and public spaces," he said. "And we can’t feel safe when guns outnumber people, when guns are easier to get than child care, health care, a college education and a decent job."