Tucson gun buyback nets 206 guns
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson Councilmember Steve Kozachik, the City of Tucson and a lot of gun owners found a different way to remember the January 8th shootings: with a gun buyback designed to keep hundreds of guns off the streets.
While some gun owners lined up to have their guns destroyed, other gun owners offered to buy the guns instead.
Tucson Police took armloads of long guns out of one man's car, but most people turned over one, maybe two weapons.
Sibyl Starr says she's been looking for a safe way to get rid of her husband's guns since he died ten years ago.
She says, "Here they lay around the house and you're afraid for them to be there; afraid for the grand children or something. "
About the guns he turned in, Johnie Pierce said: "Haven't taken them out of the drawer for the last eleven years. Why should they be hanging around?
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: "Why did you feel it was good to dispose of them instead of just letting them sit in that drawer?"
Pierce: "Because, who knows somebody's liable for something that I wouldn't approve of."
Police put tough plastic zip ties through key parts of the guns to make sure no one could load them, then asked people to take them to a table where officers checked to see if the guns were lost or stolen.
Once everything cleared, Councilman Steve Kozachik gave them a 50 dollar Safeway card for each gun.
Of the strong turnout for the event Kozachik says, "To me it affirms the community is ready for this conversation; the conversation about gun safety."
Some gun owners stood by with their own counter offers. They complained that police kept them on the edge of the parking lot and wouldn't allow them to call people over.
State Senator Frank Antenori has been butting heads with Kozachik over the buyback. He says instead of destroying guns, the city should sell them and make some money and he also questions how so many officers are involved in the program.
Antenori said, "I heard somebody on the radio all the last week and a half saying it wasn't gonna cost taxpayers a dime to do this because it's all private donations. That part is true but tell me it's not costing the taxpayers any money."
Craig Smith asked: "That somebody would be Kozachik?"
Antenori: "Of course."
On the police manpower issue, TPD says no officers racked up overtime on the project, that the department often shifts manpower for changing priorities, and for some officers the buyback was the priority for the day.
As for the number of guns in the buyback: TPD says it collected 206. It's holding back one gun from destruction because its serial numbers were removed and that requires more investigation.
Antenori says he bought two guns and overall the group bought about 40.