JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is making a big push to get illegal and unwanted guns off the streets by paying cash to people to turn them in.
During three different buyback days over the last year, JSO has received more 2,035 guns.
The Sheriff's Office, with contributions from the Delores Barr Weaver Fund, paid the owners $50 for each gun.
Weaver and Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford held a news conference Tuesday to announce a new initiative of the upcoming gun buyback event.
The Delores Barr Weaver Fund will now match the $50, and for each gun, it will also donate $50 to the Jacksonville Police Athletic League.
"I never mind anyone having a gun, and I don't want to take guns away from honest individuals, but we need to have them registered," Weaver said.
The Police Athletic League helps children with summer camps and scholarships, as well as the annual Shop with a Cop event around the holidays.
Weaver said she wanted to help fund the gun buyback program in the first place to help children.
"Anytime we hear about these shootings, whether it's in a school or whether it's in a shopping center or a movie theater, I think we all empathize, sympathize and our gut hurts," Weaver said.
The Sheriff's Office said the buyback program has been a successful way to allow people to get rid of guns safely. It gets anywhere from about 500 to over 800 guns at each buyback.
Most are handguns, but there are also a lot of long guns. And JSO accepts any unwanted ammunition residents may want to get rid of.
Rutherford said about $70,000 coming from drug busts will help fund the gun buybacks.
Guns can be surrendered with no questions asked. JSO said it has recovered 33 stolen firearms in the last year.
"They get these guns off the street that people really don't want anyway, so they leave them laying around under the seat of the car, they get stolen, then it winds up in a crime," Rutherford said.
The next buyback event is June 28 at North Jacksonville Baptist Church off North Main Street from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"This is a great way, too, for people to give guns back," Rutherford said. "It's also a great way for us to increase the community awareness of gun violence and the need to go after illegal guns."
The Sheriff's Office also operates a separate gun program called the Gun Bounty Program, which offers a $1,000 reward for information that gets an illegal gun off the streets.
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