Three-city gun buyback to be held Feb. 23

Nonprofit organization to fund event for Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park

A group of Silicon Valley residents is sponsoring a gun-buyback event for Palo Alto, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto on Saturday, Feb. 23 -- the first buyback in Palo Alto history, according to a police spokesman.

The Menlo Park-based nonprofit organization Protect Our Children Bay Area Inc. has so far raised $30,000 for the February event, which will trade cash for firearms -- no questions asked, said James Cook, the group's outreach coordinator.

The nonprofit's objective is to get guns off the streets and out of homes. It was started by Silicon Valley investor Roger Lee and aims to raise a total of $50,000 for the event. With that amount of money, it could bring in 700 to 800 firearms, based on other similarly funded buyback programs, they said.

Cook and Lee, who have children in Palo Alto elementary schools, said in phone interviews on Wednesday that they were deeply affected by the shootings of primary-school children in Newtown, Conn. The men decided a gun-buyback program that is robustly funded could entice more people to give up firearms, they said.

Lee said he initially sought to help Newtown itself after the massacre but struggled with how to make that happen.

"I decided the best way to honor their memory is to try to make sure something like this doesn't happen again," he said.

He decided to act locally, since the likelihood of legislators enacting meaningful legislation quickly is not high, he said.

But gun buybacks have proven popular when there has been enough cash as an incentive, and in the aftermath of Newtown they have been even more effective, Lee said. A recent program in San Mateo netted about 700 firearms, including 24 assault rifles; an earlier buyback in Marin brought in 800 guns within four to five hours, he said.

Lee said he and Cook will be measuring the efficacy of the program. Three Stanford University graduate students from the law and economics schools will gather data on gun-related crimes of all kinds before and after the buyback to see if it made an impact, Lee said.

He also hopes to have other buyback programs for the three cities if the February event is successful. The program they put together could ultimately be shared with organizations around the country, he said.

Already, the idea is catching on. Lee has received inquiries from places as far away as New York, Connecticut and Texas, he said.

"The long-term vision is to have the programs run on a systematic basis in communities all around the country," he said.

Cook, a former U.S. Marine who is trained in safe handling of firearms, said he has been struck by how many people don't have the training to handle firearms safely.

"I liked the idea, beyond the obvious reasons," said Cook, who is also the chairman of the Palo Alto Utilities Advisory Commission. "The three communities are so interrelated. The buyback program provides an opportunity to work collaboratively."

The group is also promoting gun safety through the cities' police departments, city councils, Parent Teacher Associations and Palo Alto Unified School District, Cook said. He also plans to work with the newly founded residents group Silicon Valley Community Against Gun Violence.

"All of these groups working together are bound to have some success," he said.

Palo Alto Police Department spokesman Lt. Zach Perron said his department is looking forward to the event.

"We're excited to work collaboratively with our partners in the East Palo Alto and Menlo Park police departments and also with Protect Our Children, Inc.," Perron said.

The buyback will be held at East Palo Alto's City Hall, 2415 University Ave., but the time has not yet been set, Cook said. People will be able to turn in the guns anonymously, regardless of the firearm's history.

Unlike other buybacks, the program will give cash instead of gift cards in exchange for the weapons. To get more powerful weapons off the street, the compensation will be based on the firepower and danger of the gun. Hypothetically, a small-caliber handgun with a small magazine might fetch $100, for example, while a high-powered assault weapon with a large magazine would garner more -- perhaps $200 or $250, Cook said.

The group hopes the removal of guns from the public will help curb accidental shootings, suicides and homicides, especially in homes, he said.

"There are so many different stories out there of many people who have guns and don't want them anymore, such as a grandparent who doesn't want a gun around for the grandkids to get into," he said.


Like this comment
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Gun buybacks are the most ridiculous idea from the guns-cause-crime people.

Criminals to not turn in their guns.

Many of the guns turned in are not operational, or they have been stored away for years where they are of no help or harm to anyone.

The no questioned asked policy allows guns used in crimes to be destroyed without a trace.

The money pissed away on these programs could be used to hire more police officers or to hire teachers and mental health workers that could help prevent crime in the first place.

Like this comment
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Article on buyback programs: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 4, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Anti-gun liberals and their money will soon be parted...

I'm already gathering all my junk guns and getting them ready. Last year I got $2000 from these misguided folks.

And the grad students? Do they actually believe a gun buyback is going to alter gun crime statistics in this area? Gun crimes are so low here you can't even get a large enough sample to measure effectively. Their parents should be ashamed of them squandering their tuition on silly research that will lead to no useful outcome.

Off my soapbox now...

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Posted by really?
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Good grief. All those well-meaning folks that haven't got a clue can now check off that they've done their part to fight gun crime. Although it won't do anything else, at least they can feel virtuous. What a waste of time.

Like this comment
Posted by Chuck
a resident of Gemello
on Feb 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Over 10 million guns sold in 2011 and about 100 million in the last 12 years. Plus all the ones bought and stored in closets and basements for the last 100 years. We don't have enough money to buy all the weapons back. The only people turning them in are 'good' citizens not criminals.
This is a very misguided program. We need to come up with a solution that makes sense. Something has to be done!

Like this comment
Posted by letsgetreal
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 4, 2013 at 7:29 pm

H I L A R I O U S.

Like this comment
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm

There isn't one shred of evidence these gun buybacks "curb accidental shootings, suicides and homicides".

If tax money wasn't wasted on this stuff I wouldn't care. But the funds donated to buy the guns don't pay the salaries of the cops standing their collecting them.

Like this comment
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm

These gun-control nut jobs are getting out of control: Web Link

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Posted by LMFAO
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Anyone know what time this buyback is scheduled? I can't wait to be there with thousands of dollars in cash, buying the better quality guns for pennies on the dollar. I can bid a lot more than $100 or $200 for a gun that deserves to be rescued from destruction.

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Posted by Sonia Khan
a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2013 at 12:14 am

Respected commenters misunderstand the purpose of gun buybacks. No one thinks we will collect 300 million guns this way. But providing a safe and anonymous opportunity for citizens to safely dispose of guns they no longer want or are uncomfortable retaining due to non-usage or lack of safety knowledge is a needed service. Since it hardly needs pointing out that selling guns on Craig's List or eBay is not the most responsible way to do it.

The fact that the buyback is done anonymously and with no questions asked also allows people who acquired their guns in a questionable manner to get rid of them without having to declare their possession in such a way as to incriminate themselves. And the point of the buy back is that they won't be forced to sell their guns to people whom they know nothing about with respect to their intentions. Like those of you intending to show up and "outbid" the buyback. Good luck convincing total strangers to sell their guns to you. At a buyback. In front of the police. Without a gunshow loophole or a background check. These people are not coming to a buyback for the money. They are coming to avoid letting go of their guns to strangers who don't activate against gun violence. We represent that surety, with the cooperation of the police departments.

The other much more important purpose of the buybacks and rallies and marches is to raise public awareness of the statistics that 92% of gun owners, 89% of Republicans, and 84% of card-carrying NRA members are in agreement with the movements to legislate our way into a safer community right now and we want to make sure that those voices are louder than the naysayers.

Thank you for reading this far, if you bothered.

Sonia Khan (member of Silicon Valley Community Against Gun Violence)

Like this comment
Posted by UncleSam
a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2013 at 11:19 pm

With all due respect to the naive organizers who think this will reduce gun violence, is this even legal? I mean, they are hoping to get illegally possessed guns off the street - if they are stolen, you are only encouraging theft, and then buy stolen property. Also, we have state and federal laws for transfer of firearms. If you don't even ask for ID and don't check they actually own the firearm, how on Earth can you do a firearm transfer as prescribed by law?

Also, someone correctly mentioned here that a lot of guns used in crimes can be easily destroyed through this program , so you are actually facilitating a cover up for a crime(if these guns are later destroyed, as it is the case for some other similar programs).

Personally, I think it is a waste of resources. A much better idea would be to buy back tese guns and then re-sell them legally. With all the required
Background checks to those who are interested and using the profit to finance the Police. I am sure there are some collectible
And valuable guns among those turned in, or even valuable parts.

If you simply melt them down, it is vandalism and a waste of resources, which can be classified as misappropriation of public funds.

Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Maybe the claim about no questions asked is trick, and they are in fact recording the license plates of people who come turn their guns, and later go after them for various crimes , if these guns were stolen or crimes were committed with them? In which case, this would great. Bu I am afraid they are honestly just wasting money and encourage more home robberies and help thieves sell their stolen guns.

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