JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office held a gun buyback event on Saturday, where they paid $50 for any gun, no questions asked.
Hundreds of people thought getting $50 in exchange for their unwanted firearms was a good deal, as 539 guns were turned in at the event, according to organizers.
Channel 4's Kumasi Aaron talked to organizers and people turning in guns who said it was great event for them and the community.
Handguns, rifles and tables covered with buckets full of guns were all out of the hands of owners who didn't want them and turned them into JSO for cash.
"Well, actually it was a family heirloom and it really wasn't operable, so I figured instead of selling it on the streets, I might as well get rid of it the right way," said Darryl Smith.
This year's turnout surprised many as halfway through the day, JSO had already collected twice as many guns as they did at the last gun buyback event.
JSO said the last event like this was more than six years ago.
"The largest one that we have conducted here have been a part of here is 200 guns. Today we're at 400 already," said Director Mike Williams with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. "It's been a little more than we anticipated but we were ready for it."
Williams credits a stronger effort to get the word out. Even though these guns were not illegal, he hopes it will start the conversation about illegal guns in the community, and make people think about gun security.
"Those left unattended, people can lose track of them and then they can end up in the wrong hands, so they wanted to participate in that part of the program and bring those in and give them to us to get rid of," said Williams.
For those who said goodbye to their guns, its about more than the money in their pocket.
"I think it's very helpful to the community to get a lot of guns off the street, and out of the hands of people who really don't know what to do with them," Smith said.
The program was funded by the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida and the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
The same two organizations also sponsor the reinvigorated gun bounty program. Both programs promise anonymity.
"The gun bounty program and the gun buyback program are two separate programs under the same strategy of targeting illegal guns and keeping guns from becoming illegal guns in the community," said Director Mike Williams with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
The gun bounty program applies if you know of a convicted felon carrying an illegal gun. If you give JSO a tip and it makes an arrest, you will be awarded $1,000. To give a tip about an illegal gun, call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
Before JSO destroys these weapons, the Sheriff's office will check to see if any guns were stolen and return them to their rightful owners. All part of an event they hope will create a safer community.
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