The turnout was large Saturday when law enforcement in Gilroy hosted the first gun buyback in South Santa Clara County in 25 years, just months after the mass shooting at the town’s Garlic Festival and another deadly shooting in nearby Morgan Hill.
Law enforcement agencies weren’t sure what kind of response they would get, but according to attendees, the mass shootings so close to home inspired them to get rid of guns they weren’t using before those weapons fell into the wrong hands. In total, authorities confirmed that 493 guns were turned in.
“We had over 70 cars waiting when we opened at 9 a.m.,” said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Josue Fuentes. “Within the first hour we had already given out $20,000.”
The guy buyback process was anonymous, no questions asked. Participants received $200 for a working assault weapon and $100 for a working handgun, rifle or shotgun.
“It’s been in the garage for over 30 years, just sitting there,” said one participant. “We think about it once or twice a year…so this gave us an opportunity to do something about it.”
Gilroy Police Sgt. John Ballard said that police just want to make guns don’t fall into the wrong hands.
“We want to get guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have guns,” he said. “Children, criminals, people with mental health issues.”