'Big win': Hundreds swap guns for cash in city of Santa Rosa's 1st buyback event

ByCornell Barnard via KGO logo
Sunday, October 23, 2022
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In the North Bay, a gun buyback event in Santa Rosa saw a big turnout Saturday, as hundreds of people swapped their firearms for cash.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- In the North Bay, a gun buyback event in Santa Rosa saw a big turnout Saturday, as hundreds of people swapped their firearms for cash.

Santa Rosa's first ever gun buyback event drew more than a crowd; it was a traffic jam.

Cars stretched more than a mile down Fulton Road.

"I think it's amazing. It surprises me so many are getting rid of guns," said Sandy Sewell.

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Sewell was parting with two guns.

There were no questions asked. Police officers swapped rifles and handguns for $200. Automatic weapons and ghost guns with no serial numbers were swapped for $300.

"You bring in a gun, stolen or not, we're going to take it and give you cash," said Santa Rosa Police Chief John Cregan.

"My father passed away 10 years ago. This is the way we can get the gun out of the closet and give my mom the cash," said Amanda from Santa Rosa.

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A total of $75,000 was raised by Santa Rosa's Police Foundation and Community Engagement Department for this event, but the cash was going fast.

"We've gone through over $20,000 in the first half hour," said one organizer.

"I feel like money will help those who need it and get guns out of homes where there might be young people," said Magali Telles.

"Unfortunately, this year, we've seen 10 homicides, six involving firearms," Cregan said.

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Despite the obvious popularity here, some research studies have questioned how effective buybacks are at stopping crime.

The National Bureau of Economic Research said, "Using data from the National Incident based reporting system, we find no evidence that GBP'S reduce gun crime."

"At the end of the day, we're not saying it's going to reduce all the crime in Santa Rosa, but we do say the program may make that one difference for that one act of violence. For me, that's a big win," Cregan said.

A total of 423 weapons were turned in but the cash ran out by early afternoon. More than 100 people were turned away.

Police say most of the guns will be destroyed.

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