The Sacramento Police Department held a gun buyback program, but instead of offering cash for firearms, it handed out $50 gas cards. The response was so overwhelming that the department ran out of cards just 45 minutes into what was supposed to be a five-hour event.
“As a department, we will continue to use innovative ideas to increase the safety of our community,” said Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester. “I truly believe violent crime prevention is a shared responsibility and today’s overwhelming community participation is evidence of the success we can achieve together.”
— Sacramento Police (@SacPolice) May 22, 2022
The event took in 134 firearms as over 100 people exchanged guns for gas money. Participants were required to bring the guns to a city police precinct, unloaded and in the trunk of their car to collect. They did not have to give their names.
Officials said they took in at least one AR-15 style rifle, components for homemade “ghost guns” and several illegally altered firearms.
The department’s Facebook page said members of the public who showed up to swap guns for gas cards often said they were unfamiliar with firearms, did not know if their guns were legal, or were unable to safely store them as the main reasons for participating in the exchange.
One reason they apparently did not cite was the high price of gas. Analysts are warning that nationwide gas prices could skyrocket from their current $4.589 average per gallon to more than $6 per gallon by the end of summer. In some parts of California, a gallon already costs over $6.
Gun buybacks have been used for years by local law enforcement to get firearms out of circulation. Proponents say they allow people to turn them in without fear of being charged with firearms violations.
Critics, however, say the gun buybacks really don’t have any effect on crime. The National Institute of Justice declared them ineffective nearly a decade ago, saying they don’;t get enough guns off the streets; the ones that do get turned in were never likely to have been used in a crime; and it remains easy to obtain new guns. It explained that initial steps were needed to actually make an impact.
“It’s good theater. But it’s not helping deal with gangs and drug dealers and everyone else using the guns,” Joseph Giacalone, retired NYPD sergeant and current professor at John Jay College, told CNN in a recent interview. “These things are dog-and-pony shows … Look, a million dollars to do all this stuff, it’s not going to help violence in Chicago or anywhere else one iota. It’s feel-good, it’s to make it look like politicians are going to do something, but it means absolutely nothing.”