Oakland police hosting gun buyback event Saturday, converting guns to gardens

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Friday, June 10, 2022
OPD hosting gun buyback event Saturday
The Oakland Police Department is trying something different to prevent gun violence: turning guns into gardens.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- On any given day in Oakland, the epidemic of gun violence can be seen on the streets. While many across the city have tried for years to stop it, their efforts have often failed.

Now, in collaboration with other community stakeholders, the Oakland Police Department is trying something different: turning guns into gardens.

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"Really what it is is an effort to try and safely bring in some firearms that someone may not be paying attention to," said OPD Captain Roland Holmgren.

On Saturday, OPD will co-host a gun buyback event for the first time in nine years.

There, they'll pay people between $100 and $300 for up to three firearms. They'll later melt them down and turn them into gardening tools.

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"This impacts the possibility of a firearm that's not, you know, has fallen out of sight of somebody's memory or not truly being taken care of, potentially finding their way into the hands of somebody who's willing to use it to harm our community," Holmgren said.

To convert the recycled gun parts, OPD has partnered with both local blacksmiths and Colorado-based company, RAWTools.

Their executive director, Mike Martin, says his company's work has produced real results.

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With his city mired in violence, Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong sat down with ABC7 News to discuss the unprecedented firepower on the streets.

"When we spend time greening our communities, community gardens, parks, places like that, violence in those areas can decrease up to 30%," Martin said.

OPD says while the event has been planned for some time, recent events in Uvalde, Buffalo and other places has given it a renewed emphasis.

RELATED: Mass shootings in the U.S. have nearly tripled since 2013, Gun Violence Archive data shows

An emphasis, that Captain Holmgren says, OPD plans to utilize to help keep their community a little safer.

"Anything that we can do, anything that our community can do to help reduce gun violence and get these weapons off the street, is definitely worth it," he said.

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