Peninsula gun buyback event runs out of money after 2.5 hours

February 23, 2013 6:29:57 PM PST
City leaders are praising the success of a gun drive which ran out of money in the first 2.5 hours. Around 355 weapons were collected at the buyback event. The tri-city effort was funded by a non-profit organization. The founders of Protect Our Children told us it was the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that gave them the idea.

Dozens of cars with weapons in their trunks lined University Avenue in East Palo Alto. The City Hall parking lot became a weapons collection center as officers from East Palo Alto, Palo Alto, and Menlo Park bought guns from residents.

A sliding scale paid $100 for a handgun, $200 for a rifle or shotgun, and $300 for an assault rifle.

Andre Fontenot of San Bruno says he cleaned up, "I brought in seven long guns, shotguns and rifles," he said. "And they're offering $200 each. So I ended up making a good chunk of money today at $1,400."

San Mateo County residents turned in revolvers and some very sophisticated assault weapons.

While the gun buyback went on, across town an anti-gun violence rally was held in Palo Alto by Protect Our Children, a non-profit that provided $52,000 for the buyback program.

"We went to our friends and family, and we also fortunate the school districts, the PTA's, and the city councils and the police departments all joined in to support our efforts," said James Cook with Protect Our Children.

Mindy Finklestein was one of five people, including children, who was shot and wounded by a man with an assault weapon at the Valley Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles 13 years ago. She says she had to be here.

"I believe that I lived that day and survived that day to speak out on behalf of those who can't speak for themselves," Finklestein said.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier assured those gathered that help is on the way, "I am very optimistic that we are gonna have a vote on the gun issues," she said.

Back in East Palo Alto, the buyback program ran out of money after only 2.5 hours.

One man was paid $1,700 for the guns he turned in. Organizers say that's why they ran out of money so quickly, and next time they'll try to put a ceiling on how much money they'll pay each individual resident.

The next gun buyback program is scheduled for the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds on March 2.


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