Jacksonville Sheriff's Office gets guns off streets

During the last two years the Jacksonville Sheriff Office has made a big push to get illegal and unwanted guns off the streets by paying a cash bounty to people to turn in guns and to turn in criminals with guns.

The are two different programs: the gun buyback and the gun bounty.

During three different buyback days over the past year, the Sheriff 's Office says it received 2,035 guns. The department, with contributions from various charities, paid the owners $50 for each gun. JSO Director Mike Williams  oversees the program. He says they set up the buyback at specific sites on several days during the year.

"We don't make anybody show up. They bring those guns to us and turn them in and we will destroy them in the end," Williams says.

Williams says something else has shown up at those buybacks: stolen guns. Because guns can be surrendered with no questions asked, the JSO has recovered 33 stolen firearms in the last year.

Sheriff John Rutherford says the buyback program is a way to allow people to get rid of guns safely.


"So we know they don't want them, which means they stick them (guns) away. They put them in the car and put them in the house or the garage. They get stolen, and a stolen gun almost always at some point become a crime gun," Rutherford says.

The sheriff's second, and he feels more important campaign, is the gun bounty programs, which was started in 2006 but kicked into high gear again last year. The department will pay a tipster a $1,000 for the name of someone carrying an gun they shouldn't have if that tip leads to an arrest.

That money can increase from contributions by other groups if it is found that gun was used in a murder or other violent crime.

JSO's gun buyback/bounty program PowerPoint presentation

Sheriff Rutherford says the bounty program has been very successful.

"I know when we do a gun buyback, the dope dealer carrying the illegal gun, he's not going to turn his gun and for $50. I got to go talk to his friend. So what we do is offer the community -- citizens in the community. We will give you (a) $1,000 bounty for telling us who is carrying a gun illegally out there on the street."

Since May of last year the JSO had 79 tips leading to seven cash awards and eight arrests of people with guns should should not legally have them.

About the Author: