Jun 14, 2022 - News

Salt Lake City Police collect 103 guns in buyback event

Illustration of  money ins the shape of an X over a gun
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Salt Lake City Police Department said Monday it collected 103 firearms from the community during its gun buyback program last weekend.

Details: Police exchanged handguns for $50 gift cards and assault rifles for $100 gift cards at the no-questions-asked event on Saturday.

By the numbers: People voluntarily turned in 38 rifles, 28 revolvers, 24 pistols and 13 shotguns.

  • Police identified five firearms that were reported as stolen.
  • The guns will either be sent to the Salt Lake City Police Mutual Aid Association's museum, the SLCPD crime lab or be destroyed.

What they're saying: "Today, there are 103 fewer firearms out in our community, which means 103 fewer guns that could end up in the hands of a person willing to inflict harm," police chief Mike Brown said in a statement.

  • "Many of the people who turned in their firearms said they wanted to make sure their guns wouldn't end up back on the streets, and that's why this gun buyback was so important."

Driving the news: Between 2016 and 2020, deadly firearm assaults have increased in Salt Lake County by nearly 41%, according to figures from the Utah Department of Public Health.

Zoom out: Salt Lake City is the latest example of local officials across the nation seeking solutions to reduce gun violence in their communities by lowering the number of guns in circulation.

Yes, but: Some Salt Lake City residents, including firearm education group Utah 2A Alliance, also attended the event to offer gun owners more cash than the gift cards police were offering in exchange for their firearms.

  • One gun purchaser named June, who declined to provide her last name, said she was buying guns in order to train LGBTQ people how to use them for self-defense.
  • "The kind of people who are going to be getting rid of guns here are obviously the kind of people who mean well, and don't want guns to end up in the hands of the wrong people," June said. "But I believe that having more guns in the hands of people who actually need them to protect themselves is ultimately the greatest good here."

What's next: The Salt Lake City Police Department said they might hold another gun buyback event in the future.

  • Investigators also may review the markings the guns produce on bullet casings, to learn whether they match the markings on casings found at crime scenes, a department spokesperson told Axios.
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