The recent school shooting in Newtown, Conn., wasn’t far from the minds of some participants of Saturday's gun buyback event in Opa-locka.
Organizers of Saturday’s program called it a success, with more than 100 weapons collected. Officers took in nearly double the amount of weapons collected when compared to a buyback event in December 2011.
"People have a renewed awareness of the damages that guns can cause in the wrong hands, and many of us know there are guns in our household that we should not have there," said David Chiverton, Opa-locka assistant city manager.
Saturday’s buyback program was the most successful effort of its kind since the initiative began five years ago, officials said. For four hours, Opa-locka police and the Florida Highway Patrol collected guns for cash in front of the New Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church.
People who turned in handguns got $50 each. Shotguns and rifles fetched $100 apiece.
"It's very important to get the guns away from the wrong hands. I think that that's the key,” said Antonio Sanchez, Opa-locka’s deputy police chief. “And getting those guns away from the people who should not be in possession of those weapons in the first place is critical."
No questions were asked. Police said they weren’t concerned where the guns came from. They said they just wanted them off the street. Six stolen guns were among those collected.
Saturday's event was so successful, officers ran out of money for a short time. But the funds eventually were restored and the event continued.
The city plans to host another buyback next spring.