RICHMOND, Va. -- The City of Richmond is taking a step towards ending the ongoing violence by approving a gun buyback program.
The program voted on at Monday night's Richmond City Council meeting, gives civilians the opportunity to sell their privately owned firearms to the city with no questions asked. The initiative aims to get more guns off the streets, especially in the wake of escalating violence across the city.
The program will be a partnership between the Richmond Police Department and a non-profit group called the Robby Poblete Foundation.
Founded in 2017 by Pati Navalta, the foundation honors her late son who was shot and killed in 2014.
The foundation has successfully run buyback programs in California and Georgia since 2016 that have resulted in the collection of around 2,500 guns.
Pastor Ralph Hodge with the Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Communities Organization said that data shows the programs don't make a dent in preventing crime.
"Yes, they are effective in getting some guns off the streets, but normally, those are not the guns that are involved in violent crimes. So for me, it's a waste of resources," Hodge said.
Hodge said that he would rather see the money on targeted intervention programs, like drug and alcohol treatment, affordable housing and job placement.
However, Navalta said while it may be hard to quantify success from buyback programs, there is an impact.
"What I'd like to point to is the fact that we have no idea how many lives any of these guns could have saved but we know that when these guns are surrendered at buy-back, that probability drops to zero," Navalta said.
City Councilwoman Reva Trammell, who backed the program, said that it's just one of many attempts city leaders are making to stop the spread of violence.
"People are actually telling me, we can get that money and buy a better gun. No, that's not what this program is for. That's for you to turn in those guns that are illegal or guns if your loved one passes away or a gun is found. Turn it in."
The buyback program will start later this summer and is funded by COVID-19 relief money.