60 Guns Delivered to ‘Give Back’ Event
City residents voluntary delivered 60 guns to the Fredericksburg Police Department during Saturday’s four-hour Gun Give Back event.
“The event was a unqualified success,” said Natatia Bledsoe, Fredericksburg Police Department public information officer. “I don’t think any of us expected to have this much of a turnout.”
Bledsoe stressed the give back was completely voluntary. “They [those who brought guns] just wanted to dispose of those guns in a safe and secure manner,” she said. “We we’re not trying to preclude people from selling their weapons, but we were providing another option for whatever reason of their own they didn’t want to keep that weapon.”
Fredericksburg City Councilman Charlie Frye initiated the event idea, with the aim toward getting weapons off the street, if possible. He’s personally experienced crime involving guns. “The original idea was to host a gun buy-back event, but state legislation passed in 2012 would have required us to offer those weapons back onto the market through auction to firearms dealers,” Bledsoe said. “Frye’s aim, however, was to get guns out of the public market. That’s where the Fredericksburg Police Department came up with the idea of a gun give-back.”
Local philanthropist Doris Buffett donated $100 for each gun.
“A couple of years ago, Ms. Buffet approached the Fredericksburg Police Department about hosting a buy back,” Bledsoe said. “She was willing to buy back weapons if people wanted to turn them in. But it was after the 2012 legislation, and she was not interested in supporting a buy back if the firearms had to be offered back onto the public market. When Mr. Frye came forward with his proposal and we suggested to him a give back might be more appropriate to his goals, Chief Nye contacted Ms. Buffet to see if she was still interested and she was.”
The give back collected 24 long guns, 26 hand guns, four homemade shot guns and six others, including BB guns, air rifles and ones which look real but are not actual fire arms. “This equates to $6,000 in charity donations going to Empower House, Cops and Kids (Shop with a Cop), Micah Ministries, Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter,” Bledsoe said.
Buffett has extended her $100 per gun offer through March.
“We’re hoping that other jurisdictions will look at our initiative and try it themselves,” Bledsoe said.
“Every year we receive at least a handful of weapons that are turned in for a number of reasons,” Bledsoe said. “One mother turned in a gun because her son was suicidal, and she did not want the weapon in the house. But more than that, she did not want that weapon to ever get in the hands of someone else’s child. It was important to her to turn that weapon in and know for sure that it would never be used in a tragic circumstance.”
One person who turned in a gun Saturday told police his brother had died during a hunting accident involving the weapon. He wanted it destroyed.
“If an individual wants to dispose of their property, that’s fine,” said Lyndsy Simon, a gun owner and Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) member from Albemarle County who came to protest. “Private property rights are of utmost importance, they’re sacrosanct. But there’s a very big difference between saying this is a service we provide and saying this is an event.”
Simon objected to the tax dollars spent to pay the officers working to collect and process the guns. “Using tax dollars to perpetuate the idea that civil rights are granted by government is extremely offensive to me,” he said.
Some protestors held signs offering to buy guns. Simon said many of the protestors were VCDL members, but the gathering was not an organized VCDL event. VCDL leaders were attending a different event in Alexandria, Va., he said.
“We’re perpetuating the notion that taking guns out of the hands of responsible citizens decreases crime, and statistics simply don’t bear that out,” Simon added.
“I’ve been here all day, and I think this has been a huge success for the city of Fredericksburg,” Councilor Frye said. When asked to respond to the protestor’s beliefs that tax dollars should not be spent sponsoring a gun give-back event, Frye said, “What’s the value of a life? If a gun is worth X amount of dollars, then how much is a life worth.”
If you wish to turn in an unwanted firearm:
– Transport the weapon unloaded in the trunk of your vehicle.
– Request an officer to meet you in the parking lot of Police Headquarters, 2200 Cowan Blvd., Fredericksburg, and retrieve the firearm from your vehicle
– Tell the officer which of the four charities you would like to support with the surrender of your firearm
– Ammunition is not being accepted.
Gun Give Back Proceeds Saturday
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