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Over 1,300 Guns Collected in FL Sheriff's Buyback Event

Over 1,300 Guns Collected in FL Sheriff's  Buyback Event

Source: Associated Press

The Orlando Sentinal via YellowBrix

August 22, 2010

TAVARES, FL — Money pried a 22-caliber gun from Jim Carlton’s hands.

“Like everybody else, I can use an extra $50,” said Carlton, 63, a music writer and guitarist in Mount Dora, who was among more than 180 people who took part Friday in the first-ever “Kicks-4-Guns” program in Lake County.

His never-been-fired handgun had collected dust in a closet for about 40 years until he read about the one-day event, during which anyone in possession of a firearm could trade it anonymously for a $50 gift card.

Sheriff’s Lt. Art Newcombe said firearm traders included people who had inherited rifles, stumbled across an unwanted pistol in a closet or decided they could make better use of $50 than their dusty old gun.

“It’s about making the community safer,” Newcombe said.

Deputies from the sheriff’s Street Crimes Unit handed out more than $9,000 in gift cards during the 12-hour event at Hickory Point Recreational Facility, collecting more than 200 firearms, including six sawed-off shotguns.

“Those are used for nothing but no good,” Capt. Todd Luce said.

Sheriff Gary Borders called the event a success. Gift cards were purchased with money forfeited by drug dealers.

Deputies arranged a “drive-through” lane for gun traders at the Tavares park, where participants pulled up, gave up a gun, got a gift card and drove away. No ID was collected, no questions were asked. Trades took less than 30 seconds.

Gun traders didn’t get out of their vehicles.

To lessen the chance of an accident, deputies removed all firearms from the vehicles, checked each for ammunition and ran the serial numbers through a crime database to see if the gun was stolen or linked to a crime.

Law-enforcement agencies throughout Central Florida participated in similar events at other locations.

The annual program in Central Florida, created 12 years ago by radio personality Russ Rollins, host of “Monsters in the Morning” on 104.1 FM (WTKS), was a push to curb youth violence by offering sneakers for guns.

Gift cards to Target and Walmart have replaced shoes as trade currency in most locations.

Though some of the traded guns appeared to be old and inoperable, Barb Bergin, executive director of Crimeline, which assisted organizers of the annual event, said the firearm’s condition doesn’t matter much.

“If you’re working at the 7-Eleven, are your first thoughts going to be about whether the gun will fire when someone comes in and points it at you? We consider every gun [to be] dangerous and operable,” Bergin said.

She said the no-questions-asked program offers gun owners, both legal and illegal, an incentive and opportunity to dispose of firearms they don’t need, use or want — and lessens the chance a gun will be used in a crime.

“It’s not about disarming America,” she said. “This is about getting rid of unwanted guns.”

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