San Jose Hopes Gift Cards Will Get Guns Off Streets

Turn in a gun, get a gift card

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Several cities in the Bay Area, including San Jose, marked the Sandy Hook School mass-shooting anniversary by holding gun buyback events. NBC Bay Area Kimberly Tere reports from San Jose. (Published Monday, Dec 16, 2013)

    Give up your gun and go shopping at Target.

    Several cities in the Bay Area, including San Jose, marked the Sandy Hook School mass-shooting anniversary by holding gun buyback events.

    San Jose police offered gift cards in exchange for working firearms -- $100 for a handgun or shotgun, and $200 for an assault rifle -- at a gun buy-back on Saturday. Police collected 470 firearms during Saturday's buyback event.

    No questions asked.

    The San Jose buyback was paid completely or at least in part by crowdfunding. That is when donors contribute small amounts online, which can quickly amount to thousands of dollars.

    It's the same campaign that helped Oakland police buyback 200 guns.

    San Francisco also funded its own gun buyback this past weekend. No word on how many guns were collected there.

    In many cases, it took only a few minutes.

    Police tried to make it as easy as possible for people. People drove up, officers opened the trunk, took out the firearm, and paid the participant.

    Police said many gun owners do not really want firearms in their home, but have no idea how to get rid of them. The buyback programs give them a way.

    "We started at 9 o’clock, and cars were lined up probably at about 7 o’clock this morning, so they were eager to get rid of their own unwanted guns," San Jose Police Chief Larry Esquivel said.

    Police said it also gets firearms off the streets.

    "I just brought an old shotgun," buyback participant Jim Lilly said. "I didn’t need it laying around, and I figured one more gun off the street, it might help somewhere."

    In San Jose, guns collected were checked for lost and stolen status. And if that was the case, they will be returned to their legal owners.

    Police said all other firearms will be destroyed.

    The first gun buy-back in San Jose since 2001 comes at a time of increasing homicides in the South Bay city, and the buy-back at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church at 2012 E. San Antonio Avenue will hopefully curb violence, police say.

    Some gun owners may be peaceful and law-abiding, but may still see their guns used in crimes -- after burglars swipe the guns, police note.

    Saturday's buy-back began at 9 a.m. Guns had to be brought to the buy-back unloaded and concealed in the trunk of a car.