Jul 15, 2022 - News

Metro Denver gun buyback sees a hefty haul

Guns turned over from a single individual during a gun buyback in Aurora in June. Photo courtesy of Denver City Council member Amanda Sawyer

Gun buyback drives in the Denver metro area have collected at least 450 firearms since first launching in March, Axios Denver has learned.

Why it matters: Data shows gun-related injuries are among the leading causes of death for youth, Axios' Jacob Knutson writes, citing an analysis of CDC data published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

  • That figure includes suicides, homicides, unintentional and undetermined gun deaths.

Driving the news: Denver City Council member Amanda Sawyer partnered with Aurora City Council member Curtis Gardner to host the events — which, together with the company RAWtools, turn dismantled guns into gardening tools.

  • The next event, happening this Saturday at the Park Hill Golf Course, will be the fifth in as many months, and will run from 10am to 1pm.
  • At least 450 guns have been collected since the first drive in March, Sawyer told Axios Denver.

By the numbers: People who voluntarily turn over guns get Visa gift cards in exchange, and the firearms are destroyed onsite.

Attendees can expect:

  • $50 for single shot or non-semiautomatic rifles
  • $150 for handguns and semiautomatic rifles
  • $250 for assault-style rifles (determination made onsite)

Of note: BB, airsoft, homemade and ghost guns can be destroyed, but their owners aren't compensated for them.

What they're saying: "What we see up in East Colfax is that crime doesn't stop at Yosemite [Street] just because Denver does," Sawyer told Axios Denver.

  • Sawyer said it's crucial to make the program a regional effort. The first buyback was held at the Empower Field parking lot in partnership with the Denver Broncos on March 19.
  • Buybacks are anonymous, though Sawyer said people can respond to a questionnaire. Unlike similar events, the gun buybacks in Denver and Aurora aren't hosted by local law enforcement — another important factor which Sawyer said helps people feel more comfortable with the transaction.

The big picture: Sawyer said she doesn't expect criminals to hand guns over at these events; instead, she said it allows adults to remove guns from their homes to avoid accidents and ensure an unused firearm doesn't end up in the wrong hands.

The other side: Studies indicate that gun buybacks have mixed results, with one report suggesting most collect under 1,000 guns — not enough to have an impact on possible criminal activity.


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