More Than Two Dozen Firearms Turned in at Miami Beach's First Ever Gun Buyback

Miami Beach Police exchange gift cards for guns in first ever event

The Miami Beach Police Department declared the city's first ever gun buyback held at the convention center Saturday a success with more than two dozens firearms turned in to authorities.

"As you can see on the table we have four shotguns and a number of semi-automatic pistols, as well as revolvers," Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez said. "Those are the type of weapons that we are encountering on the streets here."

"Anything we can do to take a weapon off the street is one less potential disaster," Commissioner Jerry Libbin said.

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Libbin pushed for the one-day event that netted 25 firearms in exchange for as much as a $300 Visa MasterCard gift card. He said its proof that trading cash for guns works to reduce violence.

It's why Rene Lopez said he gave up a revolver in exchange for a $75 gift card.

"It's just logical, the fewer weapons there are, the fewer opportunities there are for them to fall in the wrong hands," Lopez said. "My stepfather passed away, and he had this weapon, and the question was what do we do with it, and I thought the best thing to do would be to just turn it in."

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Officials said the guns collected were enough to merit the program, if at the very least to raise awareness.

"Part of this is community outreach to try to bring awareness to our community, awareness to guns being out there," Martinez said.

As the national debate over gun violence intensifies, some experts call gun buyback campaigns a total misfire. The biggest weakness they claim is that the percentage of guns recovered is too small to put a dent in serious crime, and they rarely attract people most likely to commit violent crimes.

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While the department acknowledges that, the chief says the effort is worthwhile.

"It only takes one weapon to have a tragedy out of the streets," Martinez said. "This is just one of our efforts that we are doing as part of the Miami Beach Police Department to really address violence in our streets."

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