Tuesday, September 19 , 2017, 7:32 pm | Fair 67º

 
 
 
 

Local News

179 Weapons Turned In During Gun Buyback Program in Santa Barbara

Organizers of Coalition Against Gun Violence event say collection included 90 handguns, 88 long guns and an assault weapon

Gun owners who surrendered their weapons received Smart & Final gift cards worth $200 or $100 during the Coalition Against Gun Violence buyback program Saturday at Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
Gun owners who surrendered their weapons received Smart & Final gift cards worth $200 or $100 during the Coalition Against Gun Violence buyback program Saturday at Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The weapons were neatly separated in bins at Earl Warren Showgrounds — two containers filled with long guns, a pile of handguns and a bin with a California-classified assault weapon.

The final count from Saturday’s anonymous gun buyback program was 179 firearms, according to Santa Barbara police Sgt. Riley Harwood.

A total of 90 handguns, 88 long guns and the assault rifle were relinquished and taken off the streets, he said.

The weaponry will ultimately be destroyed, then recycled into steel products. The collected guns will be taken by police to Los Angeles, said Toni Wellen, founder of the Coalition Against Gun Violence.

The event was a chance to send a message, she said, noting that more than 30,000 people are killed by firearms each year.

“If thousands of people were dying from a virus, we would be doing something about it,” Wellen told Noozhawk. “I felt motivated. I’m a person of nonviolence.”

One issue is the risk of firearms in the homes of people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, she said.

“The buyback gets the guns out of the homes of people who don’t want them or where a gun can be dangerous because of children or elderly people,” Wellen said.

“We have more guns than we have people in America. There are some people who have multiple guns — about one-third of the population owns guns.”

Saturday’s buyback drew individuals from Camarillo to San Luis Obispo.

Ninety handguns were among the weaponry relinquished during Saturday’s gun buyback event at Earl Warren Showgrounds. Click to view larger
Ninety handguns were among the weaponry relinquished during Saturday’s gun buyback event at Earl Warren Showgrounds. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Carpinteria resident Len Everson said buyback events are a more comfortable environment compared to handing in a gun at a police station. Under California law, individuals can voluntarily surrender a firearm to a law enforcement agency. At the buyback, gun owners can drive up with the unloaded firearms in the trunks of their cars.

Everson’s wife had acquired a rifle from her family estate.

“The gun had been sitting around the house for years,” he said. “It can feel weird walking into a police station with a gun.”

Upon surrendering weapons, individuals received Smart & Final gift cards worth $200 or $100. The higher amount was awarded to people turning in functioning California-classified assault weapons, and the lower one for handguns, rifles and shotguns.

Sponsors and supporters contributing money or services to the third annual event included the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence, the City of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Police Department, Earl Warren Showgrounds, Smart & Final and Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara.

A total of 446 guns have been handed over through Santa Barbara Coalition Against Gun Violence buyback programs since 2014, according to the nonprofit organization. Another event is expected in November.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said even one gun relinquished keeps people safer, adding that the buybacks are not part of a debate about the Second Amendment.

According to a Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence survey, about 1.7 million children live in homes with unlocked and loaded guns. A gun in the home makes it 22 times more likely to be used against that family in an accidental shooting, suicide or homicide, according to the organization.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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