Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022
Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis said he’s proud that hundreds of residents turned in 1,200 guns for gift cards on Saturday in what officials billed as the most successful single-day Gun Buyback in recent U.S. history.
“Our gun buyback event was an incredible success,” Commissioner Ellis said. “Over 1,200 guns were collected, making this the most successful gun buyback in recent history. It's clear people are ready to do something about gun violence even when our state won't.”
Mayor Turner thanked everyone who made the event an overwhelming success
“This is a demonstration of a collective effort in our city,” Mayor Turner said. “It’s not just HPD, but it’s our elected officials who are working with this. It’s community organizations and faith-based leaders – everybody coming together to make it happen.”
In addition to Commissioner Ellis and Mayor Turner, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, Congressman Al Green, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Houston City Council Member Tiffany Thomas and state Rep. Gene Wu also supported the event at Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Westchase Park and Ride in Alief.
“I am grateful that this gun buyback took place in the Ninth Congressional District and allowed guns from any place in the area to be received using a well-established, no-questions-asked approach,” Congressman Green said. “Gun buybacks are an effective means by which to help reduce crime as well as gun violence in our communities. I urge all persons of goodwill to participate in gun buybacks in an effort to save lives by getting guns off our streets. The epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings must end or it may be our end.”
Said Congresswoman Jackson Lee: “Guns kill innocent children, teenagers, women, men and seniors. Over the years, I have advocated for strong buyback programs. I am delighted to collaborate with the City of Houston and Harris County to continue the successful buyback programs.”
At a Gun Buyback in July, about 850 weapons were turned in at the event held in Third Ward. Last month, Commissioners Court invested about $1.1 million to conduct up to eight gun buyback events.
As part of the One Safe Houston Initiative, the City of Houston has allocated $1 million to create a robust Gun Buyback Initiative. The city and county funds may represent the single largest financial investment into gun buyback programs in the history of the country.
“Because of lax gun laws in our state, our community is drowning in guns,” Commissioner Ellis said. “We may not control gun laws, but we are not powerless to take guns off the street.”
On Saturday, from 8 a.m. to noon, residents received a $50 gift card for every nonfunctioning gun, $100 for a rifle, $150 for a handgun and $200 for an assault rifle.
This program is part of a broader strategy recently implemented by Harris County to get at the root causes of crime. The County’s Violence Interruption Program works with trusted and trained community messengers to de-escalate local conflicts, provide pathways out of gangs, and provide resources and support in terms of jobs, substance use, health and education.
In addition, the County’s Holistic Assistance Response Team (HART) sends trained first responders to assist people struggling with issues related to mental health, substance use, or homelessness so they can receive the help they need. This also eases the burden on law enforcement by allowing them to focus on serious violent crimes.
The gun buyback also is part of Mayor Turner’s One Safe Houston Initiative, a $53 million investment aimed at crime reduction. The comprehensive violence reduction initiatives link research-based strategies to improve public safety and reduce the harms caused by violent crime.
“We have invested record amounts of resources into public safety initiatives that are smart and tough on crime,” Commissioner Ellis said. “Yet, as we’ve seen time and time again, we can pass all the great policies in the world. But at the end of the day, we have to get weapons off the street to keep our community safe.”