On Saturday, Jan. 26 over 700 guns were collected by Seattle Police as part of the city's first gun buyback program since the early 1990s.
The event gathered 716 guns in four hours, handing out $68,000 in donated gift cards.
“There was clearly a lot of pent up demand for a gun buyback. I’m pleased that so many people were able to safely dispose of unwanted guns," said McGinn. "This would not have been possible without our donors and sponsors and the hard work of the Seattle Police Department. We will be working together to plan another gun buyback event soon, and I encourage donors to step up and help us meet public demand. Imagine how many more people we can help dispose of an unwanted gun.”
Seattle-King County Public Health Director Dr. David Fleming said the program shows the public awareness and willingness to prevent gun violence.
"The response to Saturday's gun-buy-back program indicates that public awareness and public will are building to prevent gun violence and promote gun safety,” said Dr. Fleming. “These are public health issues and our local, state and federal governments can take actions to make our neighborhoods and residents safer. A public health approach to gun violence could help change the fact that Americans are victims of gun violence more than people in any developed country in the world."
“This event provided a safe place for citizens to turn in guns they no longer want,” said King County Sheriff John Urquhart. “It is a much better choice to remove an unwanted gun from a home rather than leave it where it can be stolen and used in a crime.”
The gun buyback operation, held in downtown Seattle near Seattle Police headquarters, collected a total of 716 guns, including 348 pistols and 364 rifles. Among the weapons turned in were three “street sweepers,” shotguns that include a high capacity magazine capable of holding twelve 12-gauge shotgun shells.
Despite the presence of private buyers near the event site, very few members of the public chose to sell their weapons, preferring to participate in the gun buyback event. State law permits private gun sales between Washington State residents without a background check, even though background checks are mandated for retail gun sales.
Approximately $68,000 in gift cards were handed out during the event. Rifles, handguns and shotguns were eligible for up to $100 in gift cards, and assault weapons were eligible for up to $200. Several members of the public dropped off unwanted weapons and did not want a gift card in return.
A total of $118,100 was pledged from private donors to fund the event. The Seattle Police Foundation, which acted as the financial coordinator for the event and donated $25,000, had a total of $80,500 available and chose to keep some money in reserve for a future event given the strong public demand for gun buyback opportunities. They will continue to seek more funding, as well as fulfillment of all pledges, to help support the next gun buyback event, which will be held in the coming weeks.
Donors included Amazon ($30,000), Nick and Leslie Hanauer ($25,000), UW Medical Center ($10,000), A Better Seattle, founded by Head Coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks ($10,000), and PEMCO ($5,000). Several members of the Seattle Nightlife and Music Association donated money and distributed fliers at their bars and clubs the evening before the gun buyback event.
The last gun buyback in Seattle took place in 1992. Over 1,200 guns were collected over four days.