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Hundreds of unwanted firearms were taken off the streets during a recent gun buyback event held by the city of San Rafael.
The event was hosted June 4 in collaboration with law enforcement agencies in Marin County and the Marin County District Attorney’s Office. It took place at the Marin County Sheriff’s Office.
A total of 552 firearms were collected over a four-hour period. The weapons collected included 193 handguns, 210 rifles and 149 shotguns. According to San Rafael Police Lt. Dan Fink, 28 weapons had the qualifying characteristics to be considered assault weapons.
“The fact that so many of them were turned in voluntarily, it’s a good thing. For people with guns in their home that don’t want them, it’s not that easy — if you’re gonna sell them, you don’t know who’s going to end up with it.”San Rafael Police Lt. Dan Fink
It was estimated that about 11,000 rounds of ammunition were also turned in.
The event kept to the no-questions-asked approach that gun buybacks typically adhere to in the case of an illegal weapon. Of the firearms turned in at the event, seven were marked as illegal due to modification of shortened barrels or stocks, four were ghost guns containing no serial numbers, and two weapons had their serial numbers filed off.
Participants received $100 for functional handguns, rifles and shotguns, or $200 for any semi-automatic weapons. Fink reported that the Saturday buyback dispersed more than $50,000 in cash to gun owners.
Cash incentives are a useful tactic in convincing residents to give up their firearms, with some police departments even offering gas money in exchange for unused and unwanted guns.
Lt. Fink said a small survey sent out by the San Rafael Police Department via email revealed that 76 percent of responses cited their motivation to turn in their firearms as not wanting the firearm in their home at all.
“The fact that so many of them were turned in voluntarily, it’s a good thing,” Fink said. “For people with guns in their home that don’t want them, it’s not that easy — if you’re gonna sell them, you don’t know who’s going to end up with it.”
According to the Marin County District Attorney’s website, gun buyback events are hosted as an effort to enhance community safety by reducing gun violence.
Following the devastation of the recent mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, measures against gun violence seem as timely as ever, though Fink mentioned that the county had been organizing this buyback since 2019, when COVID-19 cautions put a halt to their plans.
“People want to get rid of their guns that aren’t comfortable with them in their houses,” Fink said. “This is a great program that I think we’ll see expanded across the country for people to turn stuff in safely, that will then be destroyed.”