Roanoke’s first ‘Gun Buyback’ event turns out better than expected

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Roanoke’s first ‘Gun Buyback’ event was held Saturday afternoon.

Gun owners were able to turn in guns to local law enforcement in exchange for grocery gift cards valued at up to $250.

“I had an old firearm that I don’t ever shoot,” said Steve Wood as he stood in line to exchange his firearm.

The event was hosted on Saturday, Aug. 21 by the Roanoke chapter of the NAACP in partnership with Lawson’s Realty Group.

“I have three weapons that are my father’s that are no longer of any use to me,” said Allen Austin while waiting in line.

The line to trade firearms for grocery gift cards was wrapped around the corner at Lawson’s Realty.

“I’m trying to find a responsible place to get rid of them without actually just getting them in the wrong hands,” explained Austin.

More than $1,400 in gift cards were given away to almost 100 people. Even when gift cards ran out early, guns were still coming in.

Those who waited in line and did not receive a gift card were able to receive an IOU.

Deputy Chief Chester Smith with the Roanoke Police Department was one of many officers helping out with check-in.

“There are even folks who turned in their weapons who didn’t even want vouchers for them, just wanted to get them out of the house, so I think it’s a huge success,” said Smith.

Executive Director of the Virginia State Conference NAACP, Da’Quan Love, came to help out, too. He says this is proof that gun buyback programs work.

“When we offer opportunities to get guns off of our streets, it helps us to curb gun violence and it reduces the chance of those crazy types of incidents that can happen in homes,” explained Love.

Love says the recent gun violence epidemic has taken the lives of too many African Americans.

The Virginia NAACP wants to give Virginians more opportunities to dispose of firearms properly.

“We’re going to continue to do the very best we can to take action like these events and others to ensure that we can move this Commonwealth forward to be a better place for Black and brown Virginians,” said Love.

According to Love, this may be their first gun buyback event, but it won’t be their last. The NAACP and Lawsons are planning to hold similar events very soon.

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