A Texas church has renewed its gun buyback program, joining a growing number of groups working to get more weapons off the streets after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.
First Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas, first offered cash for guns in 2000 and continued the program until 2006. With the nation’s attention once again focused on gun safety, the church decided to restart its program later this month.
Rev. Bruce Buchanan told the local NBC television affiliate that the church collected more than 500 guns during the seven years it offered the program. He said many people who turned in their guns in the past were parents concerned about having weapons at home.
Gun buyback programs are growing in popularity following the Connecticut shooting. Government agencies, nonprofits and churches from New Jersey to California have offered everything from cash to gift cards in exchange for weapons. USA Today reported similar efforts in Los Angeles and Chicago, where buy-back programs removed several thousand illegal guns from the streets. The guns often are incinerated.
Critics say buyback programs aren’t helpful in deterring gun violence, since they don’t target criminals or the guns they would use. They also say most of the firearms turned in during such programs are old and don’t work.
But supporters like Buchanan say buyback programs prevent unwanted guns from being stolen and used for criminal activity. They also help people uncomfortable with their guns have a safe way to dispose of them. The church, a member of The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), will offer up to $50 for handguns and $200 for assault weapons.
“The sad events last month in Connecticut reminded us that we need to pick up where we left off,” Buchanan told the Dallas Morning News. “We are trying to make Dallas homes and families safer, one gun at a time.”