[ VIDEO] Police Gun Buyback program a success despite competition

Cleveland Police Sgt. Sammy Morris picked up a rifle, looked it over, and said it could easily be modified into a fully automatic weapon that's "only good for killing people. It would cut them in half."


VIDEO
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcLePURqbL8


But that weapon, and another 351, won't be used to kill anyone. It was purchased by police Saturday morning at the annual gun buyback program.
The number taken off the streets Saturday is a small bag of sand damming a river of guns in a city where 40 people have been killed so far this year, and where shootings occur every day. But police say it is a start.
"I know we saved at least one person's life today," said Morris, a police spokesperson.
Anyone turning in a working handgun received a $100 gift card for gas from Shell; food from Dave's or merchandise from Target. They also were given two tickets to a Cavaliers and Lake Erie Monsters game. Semi-automatic rifles were worth $200 in gifts. Participants also were entered in a raffle to win up to $1,000.
But not everyone hanging around the buyback bought into the program. A half-block up the street, two men held up signs offering "Cash For Guns." They were intercepting people heading toward the buyback tent at Payne Avenue near East 21st Street in front of the Public Safety Central building.
"I'm here to save perfectly good guns from being melted down," commented a man who said he was from Canton, and called himself Gabe. "We're keeping them out of the wrong hands, too."
John, who said he was from Lakewood, was buying them, too. He said he is a gun collector.
Both men said what they were doing was legal.
And they were correct.
"I know we saved at least one person's life today," said Morris, a police spokesperson.
"There's nothing we can do to stop them," Morris said.
Last October, when police gathered 298 guns at the buyback, other men on the street purchased weapons before they reached the police.
Police Chief Michael McGrath said then, "Here we are trying to save lives, and they're right in our face, trying to buy guns cheap so they can sell them for a profit."
Morris said the department does not expect criminals to voluntarily surrender guns, but officials believe they are stopping some weapons from winding up on the streets.
"There are guns that people have had laying around their houses, maybe inherited from relatives," Morris said. "These guns are stolen from homes. This stops them."
In some cases, police said, it means saving people from hurting themselves.
An officer brought over a bullet that had been lodged in the barrel of a gun that was handed in. He said if the owner had fired the weapon, it would have blown up in his face.
Morris said there was a line of people at the police building when the collection began at 8 a.m. Police ran out of gift cards at 11:45, but people still turned over the weapons.
The collected guns will be melted down and recycled by ArcelorMittal Cleveland.

 

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