The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has scheduled a gun buy-back for Saturday, Feb. 2, at five locations.
Residents can trade in their firearms for a two-pack of tickets to a Tampa Bay Lightning game and two tickets to a Tampa Bay Rays game. Also in the deal, $75 for each firearm turned in.
“I think it’s a fantastic package,” said Capt. Chad Chronister, who is helping to head-up the Saturday gun swap.
The gun buy-back had been scheduled for a future date but was moved up in light of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting masacre, Chronister said.
With 147 armed burglaries in Hillsborough County last year and 145 the year before, Chronister said there’s no illusion a single buyback will reduce crime dramatically. It can, however, help prevent unwanted guns from falling into the hands of the bad guys.
The buy-back, dubbed "Operation Gun Swap," enables the sheriff’s office to “obtain firearms people don’t want to begin with,” he said. “If getting rid of an unsecured, unwanted firearm prevents (a crime), it’s an additional benefit.”
The sheriff’s office provides gun pickup services for residents throughout the year. People can call to have a deputy pick up and get rid of their unwanted guns. The problem with that method, Chronister said, is that it can take a deputy off the street for two to three hours.
During the swap, the sheriff’s office can collect a lot more unwanted guns in a single day.
“This is a service the sheriff provides to our citizens anyway,” Chronister said.
Funding for the swap comes from a combination of donations from the Shimberg Foundation and the sheriff’s forfeiture fund. No taxpayer dollars are used, Chronister stressed. The sports tickets are being provided by the Lightning and the Rays.
Hillsborough County commissioners recently shot down the idea of playing host to their own gun buyback program. They are, however, establishing a task force to look into gun violence.
Want to Get Rid of a Gun?
Operation Gun Swap takes place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the following locations:
- Sheriff's Operations Center, 2008 E. 8th Ave., Ybor City
- 13501 N. Nebraska Ave., (site of closed Sunoco gas station), Tampa
- IGA Grocery Store, 14720 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tampa
- Sheriff's Town 'N Country Substation, 7519 W. Waters Ave., Tampa
- Sheriff's Progress Village Substation, 7935 Flower Ave., Tampa
Rules to Know
During Operation Gun Swap, residents can turn in any type of firearm, no questions asked, while remaining anonymous.
There are a few rules, however, including:
- Firearms must arrive unloaded
- Transport firearms in your vehicle's trunk, or place securely in a box or bag
- Do not remove firearms from your vehicle. A deputy will take possession of the firearm upon your arrival at the collection locations
- Unwanted ammunition will be accepted but cannot be exchanged for cash
- No BB guns, pellet guns or paint ball guns (but will be accepted for
- All firearms and ammunition collected will be destroyed.
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