Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine this morning announced the area’s first gun buyback program in 21 years.
Flanked by Seattle Police Deputy Chief Nick Metz, Dr. David Fleming of Public Health Seattle & King County, Renee Hopkins of the Seattle Police Foundation, Reverend Aaron Williams of Mount Zion Baptist Church and other current and former mayors, the two executives announced the start of the Gun Safety Initiative. Starting Jan. 26, people willing to anonymously surrender their guns will be rewarded with gift cards.
“What we’re talking today is the unwanted gun. The gun in your home, the gun in your business. Folks are scared of that gun. It’s a time bomb waiting to go off,” Metz said. “This is just one strategy of many, this is making sure that that one gun that’s turned in does not destroy a life.”
The first buyback program will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 26 in the parking lot beneath Interstate 5 between Cherry and James Streets, in downtown Seattle. McGinn said they have had about $75,000 in contributions from local companies to help pay for the guns. Participating companies include: Amazon, the Seattle Police Foundation, PEMCO, 5 Point Café and Big Mario’s Pizza and SEOMoz.
People will receive a $100 gift card in exchange for handguns, shotguns and rifles. A gift card for up to $200 will be given for assault weapons, according to a City of Seattle news release.
McGinn said the guns turned in will be turned over to Nucor Steel and melted down.
He said the buyback program “is not the solution” to gun violence.
“It’s a tool in the toolbox,” the mayor added.
McGinn said the city’s last buyback program was in 1992. Former Mayor Norm Rice, who led the city at the time, is among a group of leaders co-chairing the initiative.
“I really do hope everyone realizes they can play a role. At the end of the day we want to make sure this program doubles what we did before. We can do that, we really can,” Rice said during this morning’s news conference.