Solano County holds first ever, county-wide gun buyback

March 10, 2013 8:27:01 AM PDT
Solano County officials say their first ever, county-wide gun buyback event on Saturday was a resounding success. Vallejo police say 344 weapons were turned in, including handguns, shotguns, rifles, and even a military rocket launcher.

It was a resounding response to the call-to-action -- get unwanted guns off the streets of Solano County.

Cars lined at the fairgrounds in Vallejo as early as 7:30 a.m. for the 10 a.m. event. Officers started the buyback an hour early.

"Basically with all the gun violence that's been going on, not just in Solano County, but, just everywhere," Vallejo resident Latonnia Johnson said. "It just compelled me to want to turn my gun in and get rid of it. I didn't want my gun to end up in the wrong hands."

Raymond Courtemanche can appreciate that sentiment. His son, Matt Garcia, was just 22 when he was mistaken for someone else and shot in the head in 2008. Garcia was Fairfield's youngest elected city official. The gun used to kill him was purchased illegally from a garage sale.

The Matt Garcia Foundation, a non-profit organization named in the slain city councilman's memory, co-sponsored Saturday's buyback.

"Our point is that had there been a gun buyback event in the great city of Fairfield or in Solano County prior to Matt's death, maybe we wouldn't be grieving the loss of him today," Courtemanche said.

The guns were disassembled and destroyed on the spot. The sheriff's department had $80,000 set aside for Saturday's buyback. Sellers got $100 for handguns and shotguns and $200 for assault rifles.

"We received some donations, and we also used money from our prior asset seizures to fund this program," said Vallejo Police Department Lt. Kenny Park.

Money was paid in the form of cash and gift cards to area stores. But for some, simply getting rid of their unwanted firearms was priceless.

"I know that guns don't kill people, people kill people," Johnson said. "But you know, just to know my gun is off the streets makes me feel better."


Load Comments