Police gather unwanted guns from the public

A few of the guns collected at the Firearms Safe Surrender are shown.

Police gather unwanted guns from the public
June 23
06:00 2016

Amidst a spike in homicides, the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD) collected unwanted guns and ammo on Saturday, June 18, in the parking lot of Waughtown Baptist Church.

The Firearms Safe Surrender let gun owners turn in firearms and ammo to the police with no questions asked. The guns and ammo will be destroyed, though some ammo may be used for testing by the department. Firearms are checked before they’re disposed of to make sure they aren’t stolen and haven’t been used in a crime.

Those wanting to dispose of their guns pulled up in their vehicles and let officers remove the weapons. Lt. Katie Paterson said they had three people waiting for them right when the event started at 9 a.m.

“The point is to offer an opportunity to folks who may have guns or ammunition in their home, maybe they have small children and don’t want the guns present anymore, or maybe they’ve had them and just haven’t known how to get rid of them,” said Paterson, “It gives them a chance to safely get rid of them.”

By the time it ended at 1 p.m., officers had collected  three handguns, three shotguns, two BB guns, a black powder pistol and hundreds of rounds of ammo. This is far less than what police collected in the two city-funded gun buybacks held in 2014. The buybacks offered between $100-$175 per weapon.

Cpl. Brian Ashley, who is with the firearms training unit, said they were able to fill the back of a van with collected weapons during the buybacks.

“It was a very big turnout,” he said.

Paterson said that the WSPD opted for a safe surrender event this time because it could be organized quicker as a response to the higher than usual homicides the city is having this year. In the month it took to plan the event, that number has climbed higher.  As of Friday, there have been 14 homicides, as opposed to six at this time last year. The event also comes a week after the worst mass shooting in recent United States history at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Paterson said the WSPD regularly gets calls to dispose of firearms. She said the best way to dispose of guns and ammo is to call the WSPD so a patrol officer can pick them up, or bring them by police headquarters at 725 N. Cherry St.

Assistant Police Chief Wilson Weaver said that any weapon the police can get off the street is a good thing.

“Any weapons that  we’re able to get off the street and safely dispose of are weapons we don’t have to be concerned about being utilized in a crime or a child getting a hold of,” said Weaver.

Weaver said that the safe surrender event is just one part of WSPD’s response to the spike in violence. He said officers are making appeals to the community for information on violent crimes. He said officers also try to be out and visible in the community as much as possible.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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