Nearly 1,000 firearms collected during third gun buyback event


by Tess Rafols

Bio | Email | Follow: @Tess3TV

Posted on May 18, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Updated Thursday, May 23 at 1:26 PM

Map: Gun buyback locations

View larger map

PHOENIX -- For a third Saturday in a row, cars were wrapped around the block hours before Phoenix Police opened up shop near 39th Avenue and Glendale. 

This was one of three gun buyback locations Saturday. The event almost didn't happen, until a generous $100,000 anonymous donation came in. 

Folks happily traded in their weapons for $100 to $200 grocery gift cards.

"I had a handgun that I haven't used in a long time and I have a couple of kids and I wanted to make sure they would be safe," explained Steven Thraen. "So I wanted to get rid of the gun, so this was a good way to do it."

In the first 20 minutes at the Maryvale location people had already turned in 140 guns.

All told, Phoenix police said an estimated 937 guns were turned in Saturday, bringing the total for all three gun buyback events to 1,916 firearms.

"This community response has just been incredible," said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who was there as hundreds of weapons were turned in. 

"Without question, with the success of this third week with the additional donation, this will be, by far, the biggest gun buyback in our state's history," boasted Mayor Stanton.

"I think this program truly shows the commitment of the citizens of phoenix as a whole, again to making the city of phoenix, the safest major city in the united states," explained Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia. 

Just like the first two buybacks, gun dealers tried to lure people to sell their guns, even waving wads of cash.  Some went that route. But most guns owners said they don't want their weapons to end up in the hands of a criminal.

The collected guns will be checked and destroyed if not used as evidence in cases.  Phoenix Police did not know if any more gun buybacks will be held in the near future.

A new law that goes into effect in less than 90 days will not allow guns collected by police to be destroyed.