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Anniston and Calhoun County consider gun buy back program - abc27 WHTM

Anniston and Calhoun County consider gun buy back program

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ANNISTON, Ala. -

The city of Anniston is considering a gun buy back, and Calhoun County agencies are also interested in participating.

The Anniston city manager and council began discussions at Monday night's work session.  In the potential program, the city would provide cash or gift cards to people who turned in guns at a scheduled event.

The Calhoun County Commission, district attorney's office, sheriff's office, and crimestoppers expressed interest as well.  It would be a "no questions asked" buy back, with hopes the county would recover stolen firearms.

District attorney Brian McVeigh said the guns used in the last few capital murder cases in Calhoun County were all stolen.  That is a key reason he supports a gun buy back.  McVeigh said if the program prevents just one shooting, it will be a success.

Anniston City Council member David Reddick said he would vote in favor of a buy back if it is an option at an upcoming council meeting.

"I think the gun buy back program is a great idea.  It's a good way to get unregistered guns," Reddick said.

"Guns that could be causing a problem later on, go ahead and get them off the street so we don't run into that situation.

The idea is still in the development stage as the city manager reviews logistics including how much the city might spend, as well as when and where to turn in weapons.

Public information officer Aziza Jackson said the council went on a "listening tour" to ask members of the community about their main concerns.  The top three were education, economic development, and public safety.  She said this community effort to get guns off the street is not about taking firearms from responsible owners.

"It's mostly to get the guns out of the hands of people that don't need them or don't need to have them," Jackson said.

County commission chairman Tim Hodges said more and more communities are doing similar buy backs.  Hodges said it will be best for Calhoun County if this is a county-wide program, rather than simply limited to Anniston.

"Just this last weekend we had a shooting somewhere, early in the morning.  It's a problem and I think as elected officials we all deal with it.  We're all in the same county so we're all in this together," Hodges said.

He said it is important to have multiple entities including local police, the sheriff, 911, and other rescue operations participate.

"I saw several reports this weekend of cars being broken into and guns stolen.  Those are the kind we have to get off the street.  I think that just makes it better for the folks that are legitimate gun carriers," Hodges said.

However, they expect legitimate owners to also turn in guns they no longer need or want.

"Let's say for example I have a relative that died, and he's a shotgun owner or has several handguns and I don't want them," Jackson said.

"This is kind of giving people an even playing field, no questions asked really, they have a safe place to exchange from any type of situation.  Stolen, or a relative that inherited a gun they don't want."

The buy back would not punish anyone who turned in a gun, whether they had proper registered ownership of the weapon or not.  The district attorney said these programs typically accept all guns without identifying who exchanged it for the monetary incentive.

Once the collection is complete, law enforcement officers will determine if any of the firearms were reported stolen, and then return them to the original owners.

"It's more so providing an environment that's going to be comfortable.  We don't want people thinking we've got people following them out the door.  No questions asked.  It's a safe environment for that," Jackson said.

The Anniston city manager is considering the spending of about $10,000 for a buy back program.  The county commission, sheriff's office, and other agencies would also likely contribute to the funding.



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