Numbers released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show just how busy gun stores have been in the state following the Connecticut school shooting.
On Monday, Dec. 17, 5,735 Florida residents bought guns, compared to 3,900 on the same date last year.
On Dec. 18 – four days after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut – there were 7,105 gun purchases, more than four times the 1,771 firearms that were bought on the same date in 2011.
And on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 8,250 residents decided it was time to buy, up from 3,014 on the same date a year ago.
In Opa-Locka, veteran officer E.A. Crawford feel so strongly about getting guns off the street that she came out of retirement. Now she runs the police department’s gun buyback program, which is holding another event Saturday.
“From the officer point of view, its great to know there are a lot less weapons out on the street,” Crawford said.
On Friday Crawford showed NBC 6 South Florida some of the weapons her program has recovered, from handguns to rifles. Fifty-eight guns were returned last December, with the city paying about $5,800 for them.
Crawford is sending out an invitation for anyone to bring in a weapon in on Saturday, saying she’ll pay for it – no questions asked.
“We have what I call my Christmas grannies who have sent other people to us as the years go by because they know about it,” she said. “They call us from November – listen, my neighbor, her son brought a gun home, I don't want to get the kid in trouble. I tell his mom to bring it – we don't ask questions.”
The city says taking weapons off the street in the buyback program does impact crime and reduces the chance for violence.
“In light of the recent tragedies that have happened in the other areas of the country, we look forward to the community really turning out and bringing those guns and getting some money for them – getting some Christmas dollars,” City Manager David Chiverston said.
Saturday’s gun buyback event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the New Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church at 15000 NW 27th Ave. in Opa-Locka. The event is open to anyone, not just Opa-Locka residents.