Gun buyback program planned for Houstonians to turn in their guns

Gun owners in Houston are encouraged to sell their guns to city officials in an effort to reduce gun violence in the area.

A gun buyback program is scheduled for July 30 at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in the Third Ward. Gun owners can turn in the guns in exchange for a gift card, the amount of which depends on the type of gun.

The gift cards are as follows: $50 for each gun that does not work, $100 for a rifle, $150 for a handgun, and $200 for an assault rifle. Authorities require weapons to be unloaded and stored in the trunk of a vehicle.

The program is part of the city’s use of $44 million in federal funds for the One Safe Houston initiative, which Mayor Sylvester Turner launched in February to reduce violent crime citywide. A press conference is scheduled for Monday with more details on the takeover.

“Our goal is to remove unwanted firearms from the streets to prevent their use in crime or an accidental shooting,” Turner said in a statement.

The takeover follows a significant drop in the homicide rate, which in May fell below what it was at this time in 2021. In 2020, Houston recorded 400 homicides, followed by 469 the following year, according to HPD crime statistics.

By the end of 2021, the city’s per-capita homicide rate reached 20 deaths per 100,000 residents — still below the homicide rate of 36 recorded by the police department in 1990, statistics show. Violent crime, police officials said, has declined since the worst of the increases during the pandemic.

Funds for the One Safe Houston initiative are divided into four categories: $10 million for violence reduction and crime prevention and an additional approximately $34 million for disaster response, response and recovery. crisis, which aims to expand existing mental health programs.

The county is also participating in the buyout, with Commissioner Rodney Ellis hoping that reducing the number of guns could help prevent “these guns from circulating through illegal networks or being discovered by a curious child or teenager in someone’s home. “.

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Ryan H. Bowman