Opinion: Elk Grove Should Consider Gun Buy Back Program

By Steve Lee | I read today that the City of Elk Grove is considering “giving” a $175,000 “incentive” to a privately owned restaurant g...

By Steve Lee |

I read today that the City of Elk Grove is considering “giving” a $175,000 “incentive” to a privately owned restaurant group that wants to re-open the Old Town Brewery. The money comes from city coffers funded by our tax dollars set aside to promote new business. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for new business and possibly even incentives, but $175,000 for one business to the exclusion of all other small businesses in Old Town seems patently unfair.

Perhaps a better outlet to promote and improve our city is right in front of us and the entire world. After watching the devastating events of the Boston Marathon and its aftermath so recently, and before that, the Aurora, Colo. theatre and the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacres, I was hoping someone on our city council would step forward and do something to rid our community of unwanted and / or illegal firearms before such a devastating event takes place here. I’m still waiting. Aren’t six educator’s and 20 first grader’s funerals enough to kick start us into action?

Aren’t the still unsolved murders of two innocent Sikh gentlemen along E. Stockton Blvd a couple of years ago and now the recent pistol whipping of a local jewelry store employee just last week enough to convince the city council to take action? Violent crime locally is increasing. We need to take action.

Many cities since the Aurora incident have taken action working with local law enforcement agencies, faith based organizations, victim advocacy groups, local businesses, and even local TV stations, to set up and sponsor programs to get these unwanted or illegal weapons off the streets and reward the owners with gift cards that can be used for food or other necessities while building local stimulus.

Just earlier this month, the City of San Mateo collected 680 guns, including 24 assault rifles, paying out a total of $68,500. $100 was paid for each handgun, shotgun and rifle, and $200 for assault rifles. 338 handguns were collected and are now off the streets.

Santa Clara in one day last month collected 1,116 firearms, including 47 assault rifles for a total payout of $114,000. Imagine all these firearms off the streets where they can no longer injure or kill innocent people via accident and are unable to be stolen and used to further crime. According to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1.4 million firearms were stolen nationally during household burglaries in the six-year period from 2005-2010. 75% of all stolen firearms occurred during household burglaries.

The small community of Bridgeport, Conn., the same approximate size as Elk Grove, recently collected 108 firearms, including 10 assault rifles over a weekend for a $22,775 payout. That small community is now safer.

Los Angeles has removed almost 10,000 weapons from the streets since 2009 employing these programs. Phoenix has a program that also pays $10-$20 for donations of large round magazines.

I suggest that this program may be a better use of our tax dollars than the current economic incentive program. The safety of our families and our community must be paramount to business. It would likely be less costly as well, and it would benefit all of us, not just one entity.

Additionally, these buy-back programs do not further erode or restrict people’s 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. These collection programs are strictly voluntary. A policy of “no questions asked” is in place. Before destruction, the weapons serial numbers could be checked and if reported stolen, offered back to the actual owner. Firearms having historical significance are evaluated prior to destruction and may be kept out of circulation, but held for their value. Some cities are allowing crafters to use the melted remnants of the weapons to make jewelry items sold for profit, making the guns into an additional form of local stimulus.

Would you rather have a new restaurant in town that has a $175,000 of our tax money in its coffers prior to even opening, or have 200 handguns, 150 shotguns and rifles, 70 assault rifles and 50 high capacity magazines off the local streets for a buyout of less than $50,000?

Food for thought. Is anyone listening?

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Anonymous said...

Problem is the Elk Grove City Council and the Elk Grove Police Department continually deny we have any real crime problems in Elk Grove.

No crime = no criminals = no guns

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

This is a good idea that would take some guns of the street. However, as the poster above noted, I suspect our leadership with be loath to do this as they would be tacitly admitting there is a criminal element operating in our city. How many times have we heard Mr. Cooper say he moved here over 20 years ago because of safety considerations.

Anonymous said...

Gun buy back programs don't get the automatic weapons out of the hands of the criminals or gangsters. You might get a few guns being turned in because they were used in a robbery, murder, or such, but for the most part what you are getting are the older unwanted single shot shotguns, hunting rifles, and small caliber pistols. Criminals don't turn in their guns even if "No questions asked" because they are not able to ligimately have them in the first place and they would not be able to get another one quickly because the black market (street value) is more than what the turn in amount would be. This is a good idea, but most people can just take their unwanted guns to any gun shop and they will always do a buy back. The only way to get the guns out of the hands of criminals, those convicted of felonies, is to enforce search warrants to conduct more searches of their living quarters. Parole Officers need to take a more active role to ensure they have no access to guns or ammo.

If the cities want to make additional money on this program, then they can have a gun auction for legal gun owners to bid on the guns and ammo that were taken in or seized. First remove the illegal guns and the stolen ones from the mix and sale the rest. There are plenty of law abiding gun owners and gun collectors so the cities would be able to make money.

Anonymous said...

Good points all...but would venture to say that any effort to take any guns out of reach of children/young adults is worth the effort...whether they reduce the rate of suicides, accidental firing, or if kept out of the hands of burglars. Why hasn't our police dept/council members take a positive step in this direction? Thank you Steve Lee for an insightful suggestion.

Connie Conley said...

Yes, thank you Steve. A recent post slammed EGN readers for not having any ideas. Well, last time I looked, there have been lots of them that died on the vine.

I also asked the Elk Grove City Council to take a look, as in effect in the city of Sacramento, an ammunition ordinance in that people have to show identification when purchasing ammo and retailers have to report those sales to the local police department.

It has been very effective in the city of Sacramento. I asked the council: So if folks in South Sac are prohibited by buying ammo in the city of Sacramento, know that and know their peers are being prosecuted when caught, where do you think they are going? Elk Grove perhaps?

The suggestion went nowhere with both the Elk Grove City Council and the top brass at Elk Grove PD.

We are told that the citizens are the eyes and ears, and should take a hands-on role as EGPD advocates for “community policing.”

But when we do just that, we get a “no thanks!”

Anonymous said...

A great article Mr. Lee and after looking at the Crime Report for the City of Elk Grove this morning maybe something we should definately think about. Of course I do realize that not all were weapon related crimes, but seems we are getting hit pretty hard lately. Even one is one too many!

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