The city of Miami’s gun buyback program, now in its fifth year, is bringing in some big guns – in record numbers.
So far in 2013, the Miami Police Department has been able to get nearly 400 guns off the streets with three successful gun buybacks events.
“This is the biggest buyback we’ve ever had,” Miami Police spokesman Sgt. Freddie Cruz said. “We joined forces. The community came through, they gave us these weapons, we gave them their certificates, no questions asked.”
Those who have turned in a weapon got either a Winn-Dixie or Walmart gift card, while those who turned in assault rifles received lower-level tickets to a Miami Heat game in exchange.
James Lilly said he was relieved to drop off a weapon.
“I can’t use the gun. So I’m a convicted felon. If I get caught, I go to jail automatically,” he said.
The first gun buyback of the year brought in 130 guns at Jordan Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Liberty City on Jan. 19. The second brought in 79 firearms at St. John Baptist Church in Overtown on Jan. 26, and 174 weapons were collected at the third event at San Juan Bosco Church in Little Havana this past Saturday.
“We’re tired of seeing this gun violence in the street. I mean you can see it,” Cruz said. “We’ve had shootings, we’ve had gang rivalry wars on the street, we’ve seen what’s going on in the United States. We have to take proactive measures.”
Miami Police say their gun buyback program has been so successful that other agencies in South Florida are looking into starting their own. The Broward Sheriff’s Office confirmed that it might try something similar to get illegal guns off of the streets.
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