PORTSMOUTH, Va. — A Virginia city that has been plagued by violence in recent weeks is planning to hold a gun buyback event.
The goal of the event planned for June 25 is to reduce the number of guns sold illegally and prevent stolen firearms from being used for violence. The Virginian-Pilot reports that Portsmouth residents can hand over a gun and receive money or a gift card in return, with no questions asked.
“Any day we can get one gun out of a kid’s hand is a victory in my book,” said city council member Chris Woodard, who voted in support of the program.
The city has had at least a dozen shootings since June 1, including one that killed four people last week.
Police Chief Renado Prince said he was initially opposed to the program because from his experience, guns handed over are typically those left behind after someone dies, not weapons being used for crime on the street.
“Somebody said something to me, which was, ‘What if that gun buyback program gets a gun out of the house that could’ve been stolen and used in the commission of a crime,’” Prince said. “It changed my whole world.”
The program is funded by the Hampton Roads Black Caucus.
Vice Mayor De’Andre Barnes voted against the program, saying the city should address the root cause of what’s causing crime and preventing those involved in violence from “choosing that lifestyle."