At the request of a group of concerned residents, Gilroy officials are looking into hosting a voluntary gun buyback event.
The city council briefly discussed the proposal at its Sept. 16 meeting, when Councilmember Cat Tucker directed city staff to research any potential costs for a firearms turn-in or buyback event.
She said since a group of residents suggested such an event, she has communicated with Police Chief Scot Smithee, who reportedly expressed his support for the idea.
Gilroy resident Connie Rogers spoke in support of a gun buyback event at the Sept. 16 council meeting. Rogers said she represents an “ad hoc group of citizens that see this as something positive and healing for Gilroy after the tragedy that happened at the Garlic Festival.”
City staff said police department command staff were planning to meet with personnel from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, which has historically assisted local law enforcement agencies on gun buyback programs.
City staff also suggested the DA’s office might be aware of an outside funding source for a gun buyback event in Gilroy. Anticipated costs chiefly consist of staffing an event with police and other participating city officials.
The July 28 shooting at the annual festival at Christmas Hill Park left three attendees dead and 16 people injured. Investigators still have not identified a specific motive for the shooter, Gilroyan Santino William Legan, who shot himself as police ran toward him firing their weapons during the bloodshed.
“It’s a way to make our city safer,” Rogers said of a potential firearms buyback event. She noted that in 1994, the city had a “successful” gun buyback program in which residents turned in more than 100 firearms. That event followed a shooting at Gilroy High School, Rogers explained.
The DA’s office in the past has teamed up numerous times with police departments in Santa Clara County to conduct gun buyback events. Residents who turn in firearms at these events have been offered gift cards in exchange for their unwanted weapons.
The DA’s office website notes that gun buybacks are intended to reduce the odds that the unwanted firearms will end up in the hands of a child or violent criminal.
Gilroy officials have not yet confirmed that a local gun buyback event will take place, and for now are researching costs and other details.