Harris County, Houston will pay up to $200
HARRIS COUNTY – Residents will now have another opportunity to sell their unwanted firearms. Harris County Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, and Mayor Sylvester Turner announced last Monday a third gun buyback program, to be held on Saturday February 18 from 8 a.m. until noon at Deussen Park in Northeast Harris County. (SEE MAP FOR DEUSSEN PARK LOCATION.)
The city and county previously held two gun buyback events that took place in July and October of last year. City and County officials say the events were successful with huge turnouts and over 2,000 firearms collected. Residents can turn in firearms with “no questions asked” in exchange for gift cards ranging from $50 to $200 depending on the type of firearm collected.
“We can’t bring a life back, but we can buy a gun back and make sure it never falls into the wrong hands and causes harm to someone,” said County Commissioner Rodney Ellis. “So please do as much as you can to help make our communities safer by spreading the word about this – our third gun buyback in Harris County – two in the city, and this one will be a county-funded one.”
Both the city and county have allocated $1 million in federal funding towards the gun buyback program. Last year, the county approved its portion of the fund to host up to 8 gun buyback events in an effort to reduce gun violence, suicides, and accidental deaths caused by a firearm.
The city’s initiative is part of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s $63 million One Safe Houston Initiative to reduce violent crime throughout the city and allocate funding towards things like mental health programs, domestic violence, and overtime for police officers.
So far, the county has spent $225,000 on the program, and the city has not yet confirmed their amount spent.
The announcement of the third gun buyback program was also an unveiling of the “Stop the Gun Violence” Mural in front of Worthing Early College High School in SunnySide.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said the first two events surpassed the city and county expectations.
“The success of the two events demonstrated that people do want a safe space to dispose of their guns,” he said. “And sure, some may have been driven by the gift cards, but the impact is undeniable – We remove guns that were unwanted and had the potential of falling into wrong and wrong hands.”
The event on February 18 will be from 8 a.m. until noon. The same rules and procedures will apply, but with more lines and staff to accommodate the possibility of a huge turnout that occurred at the first two events.
Officials said they will not be accepting any “ghost guns” or privately manufactured guns, which was a problem during the first gun buyback event in July.
“We discovered we needed more lines, and more people and more staff,” said Turner. “The first one we didn’t know how many — we thought a few hundred — but the lines were long.”
The program has sparked criticism on whether or not it’s actually driving crime down in the city. Over the years, homicides in Houston were reaching nearly 500, but a report presented by HPD last month showed numbers were down for 2022.
“It takes time for things to actually show that they have been successful,” said District D Council Member Carrolyn Evans-Shabazz. “We know that a lot of people may question, Why did they even do those buybacks? And certainly I think it makes a difference to someone whose life was preserved because a person did not have an illegal gun.”