New group raises money to bankroll gun buyback programs

July 23, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Two Bay Area friends have come up with a novel idea to bankroll gun buyback programs. Tuesday night they launched a new project that uses online fundraising like it has never been used before.

On Tuesday night there was a festive event dealing with a serious subject -- raising money to pay for gun buyback programs.

"This is the first time we've ever allowed the community to participate in funding gun buyback. So people can donate the money, we pool that money together and we use it to take guns off the streets," said Eric King, the co-founder of GunByGun.org.

The program is called GunByGun.org. The idea is to raise money online just like people solicit donations for their art or business projects.

While Bay Area police departments occasionally pay people to turn in their guns, the events are sporadic and quickly run out of money. A pair of college friends want to keep the money flowing so there will be buybacks on a regular basis.

King is now a science researcher in Berkeley. Ian Johnstone is a San Francisco tech entrepreneur with a personal motivation.

"I lost my dad to gun violence back in the early 90's when I was 10 years old," said Johnstone.

His father, David, was visiting San Francisco in 1992 when he was shot to death along California Street on Nob Hill. It happened during a robbery attempt.

"To lose a parent when you are 10 years old, it impacts almost every facet of your life and development. It's something that's always been a part of my identity and who I am," said Johnstone.

San Francisco officials welcome the fundraising.

"We wanted to be a part of that and my hope is that this is just the beginning and you're going to see a proliferation of these kinds of programs not only in San Francisco, but throughout the country," said San Francisco Supervisor David Campos.

The goal is to raise $30,000 over the next month and a half.


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