Details of a gun buyback program championed by Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner will be announced on Monday to give residents information on how to exchange firearms for gift cards.
Monday’s event will provide more information on how people can turn in their weapons safely, as well as details on participating retailers, and the amount of gift cards available to the public. The July 30 buyback event from 8 a.m. to noon will take place at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, 3826 Wheeler Ave.
“We can’t solve the gun-violence epidemic overnight, but we can take action right-now by removing guns from the streets,” Commissioner Ellis said. “Gun buyback programs create an incentive for residents to turn in their firearms. I would argue there are two incentives: one is a gift card, the other is creating a safer community.”
Said Mayor Turner: “The Gun Buyback program is part of my One Safe Houston initiative. Our goal is to get unwanted guns off the streets to prevent their use in a crime or an accidental shooting. I thank Commissioner Ellis, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, and the Houston Police Department for the partnership. But we cannot have a successful event without the public participating in making our streets safer.”
With no questions asked, residents will be able to receive a $50 gift card for every nonfunctioning gun, $100 for a rifle, $150 for a handgun and $200 for an assault rifle. All firearms must be unloaded and in the vehicle’s trunk.
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.
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 help they need. This also eases the burden on law enforcement by allowing them to focus on serious violent crimes.
“We need your help to spread the word about this initiative,” Commissioner Ellis said. “Other cities have removed hundreds of unwanted firearms, eliminating the chance of these weapons cycling through illegal networks or being discovered by a curious child or teenager at someone’s home.”