JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The gun bounty program in Jacksonville has been around since 2006, but the idea faded away for a while. Now the sheriff and mayor are pushing it to the forefront again.
The program urges residents to turn in others with illegal guns and receive $1,000.
Even though violent crime is down in Jacksonville, the lowest it's been in 42 years, use of guns in crimes has increased more than 22 percent. Sheriff John Rutherford says businesses have now donated more than $75,000, and he is using $132,000 in money confiscated from drug dealers to pay a bounty on illegal guns.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has set up a system with First Coast Crime Stoppers -- turn in someone with an illegal gun and get $1,000. They also will bring back the gun buyback program in which people can sell an old gun that's not needed or can just get rid of it for $50, no questions asked.
"But remember, gun buybacks and gun bounties are really two different things," Rutherford said. "Because believe me, the illegal guns that the bounty will go after, those bad guys are not going to come down and turn those guns in for $50. Those guns, you have to go get them and take them away from them."
The sheriff points to past statistics. He says 336 illegal guns have been turned in since 2006, and 309 people have been arrested. The bounty program has paid out more than $204,000.
Businesses and community leaders were on hand for Thursday's announcement to rejuvenate the program. Among them was former Jaguars owner Delores Weaver, who said she is not promoting getting all guns off the streets, she wants to see something done to avoid any more tragedies.
"Shame on all of us personally and as a community and as a nation if we don't do something," Weaver said. "Anything that will stop the gun violence that is killing our children. I would ask, what would each of you do?"
For more information about the gun bounty program, go to JSO's website.