COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The city of Columbus is on a mission to get guns off the streets, why city and community leaders hosted a gun buyback event Saturday, allowing people to turn in their guns anonymously and be rewarded in return.
Saturday’s event was only the second time the city has held a gun buyback, and hundreds of people showed up all with the same goal: saving another life from being impacted by gun violence.
“Each one of these cars is at least one gun that is coming off the street,” Columbus Division of Police Asst. Chief Greg Bodker said.
Columbus leaders said the event was about creating a safer city.
“Hundreds of less guns on the street are hundreds of fewer guns that can be in the hands of potential criminals used to hurt people in our community,” Bodker said.
Hundreds of people responded to the call to help put an end to gun violence in Columbus.
“It also means that there are many citizens in this community that understand the need to reduce gun violence,” Trinity Baptist Church Pastor Victor Davis said.
The event, which was held at Trinity Baptist on the city’s east side, saw a total of 344 firearms — 201 handguns, 75 shotguns, and 68 rifles – surrendered. In exchange, gift cards of as much as $750 each were given out, depending on the weapon’s value.
“There’s so many examples of kids finding guns in homes, guns being stolen,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said. “There are a number of crime gangs that steal weapons from vehicles that are outside of places where weapons aren’t permitted inside, so the more guns we can get off the street, that can’t be found by children or stolen and used in other crimes, absolutely essential.”
The city handed out more than $136,000 in gift cards.
“You know, we asked everybody to step up and do their part to help us reduce gun violence, and so having this many folks participating, lining all the way around the block to get guns off the streets, you know, we think it’s absolutely critical to help protect children, families, and our officers,” Ginther said.
All of the guns will be destroyed, but not before police run each of them through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) laboratory to see if any of them are connected to a crime.