Santa Clara gun buyback successful, but falls short of expectations

Santa Clara gun buyback successful, but falls short of expectations
Supervisor Cindy Chavez worked with the Sheriff's Department to make the event a success.

Supervisor Cindy Chavez worked with the Sheriff’s Department to make the event a success.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY – On Saturday June 6, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office kicked their first Gun Buy Back event since 2013.  In a campaign to reduce the amount of illegal firearms in homes, Santa Clara County Board of Directors Supervisor Cindy Chavez, working closely with the Sheriff’s Office, were able to provide support for those who wanted to turn in stolen or dangerous handguns, keeping them out of the hands of children or simply removing unwanted weapons from their homes.

According to Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Sergeant James Jensen, “Cindy Chavez contacted the Sheriff’s Office to promote this Gun Buy Back.”  In part with Santa Clara County’s First Five nonprofit organization contributed $5000 to help purchase guns from the buyback event.  Jensen said, “The Sheriff’s Department also contributed $40,000 from its asset forfeiture” – money seized as profit from illegal activity such as drug sales.

People could bring their guns to any of four stations  to redeem for cash.

People could bring their guns to any of four stations to redeem for cash.

June 2, 2015 was gun violence awareness day.  This was the Santa Clara County’s third gun buyback.  Jensen says, “We hope that it reduces gun violence.”  With more than $18,500 dollars spent, the number of guns expected at the event was around 500, but the number fell short with only 183 guns actually received. For any gun buyback, “there is no set limit of guns you can bring in” Jensen said. “You can bring in 20 guns or you can bring in a gun.” During the event there were four separate areas where Santa Clara Deputies collected guns anonymously.

According to Santa Clara County Undersheriff John Hirokawa, “We planned everything together with the Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez to provide the buyback at the Reid-Hillview Airport.”  Working with Sheriff Lorie Smith and Undersheriff Hirokawa, Supervisor Chavez was able to put together the funds to help bring together more than 60 Sheriff’s Deputies and make the event happen.

View Video of the Event

Undersheriff  Hirokawa

Undersheriff John Hirokawa (center) reviews some of the weapons.

Working with local law enforcement agencies to help receive stolen guns from burglaries, cash was thought to be a good incentive to help get these guns back to their rightful owners with no questions asked. Undersheriff Hirokawa said, “We decided to give out cash because we just think it’s more of a draw to actually give the cash rather than the gift card.”  Persons who turned in handguns, shotguns and rifles received one hundred dollars. And two hundred dollars was given for any assault rifle brought to the event. “Actually a lot of these guns here on display are worth more than a hundred dollars” Hirokawa added.

Some of the  handguns turned in at the event.

Some of the handguns turned in at the event.

“It’s an anonymous program.”  Hirokawa said, “We stand by that.”  With at least four of the returned handguns reported stolen, Hirokawa explained that the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office will try and return these guns to their respective owners.  If they are not able to return it to the rightful owner then they will be destroyed.  Hirokawa said, “That will be the end of it for us.”

A total of 183 guns were turned in during the event. Chavez said, “In all we obtained 183 firearms – 79 pistols, 68 rifles, 24 shotguns, 12 assault weapons, and we spent $18,950.”  All of the firearms will be destroyed except the ones that were found to be stolen. Chavez said, “We really want to emphasize gun safety for those that have guns.”

Assault weapons reviewed and inspected.

Assault weapons reviewed and inspected.

Jess Baker Guy with the Public Defender’s Office attended the gun buy back as a Federal and State certified expert in firearms. Guy was an ATF Agent for almost 30 years, and finished law school before retiring as an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  He then became a public defender with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office for seven years before retiring this past May. Guy said, “I volunteer for the gun buy backs to help out with identification, operation, and safety aspects of firearms.” With his own experience handling firearms, Guy’s intrigue in the weapons brings him to the table.  “I go for the experience of handling firearms”  he said,” I always see something that’s new to me or unusual.”

Service with a smile...

Service with a smile…

Einat Bauman with the Jewish Community Election Council said, “I grew up in Israel, and was trained to shoot guns.”  In Israel it is mandatory for both men and women to join the military.  Bauman said, “I think it’s great for people to return their guns because I believe our country and county will be safer.”  For many, having a gun on hand may not make their home any safer. Without proper use and knowledge about guns, using one is very dangerous.  Bauman said, “We have to have background test, physical test and psychological test because if someone doesn’t have his right mind intact, he cannot use a gun.”

All photos and video by Amy Nilson

Santa Clara gun buyback successful, but falls short of expectations was last modified: June 10th, 2015 by admin
Categories: Santa Clara

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