Hillsborough County Sheriff wants to buy your guns

02/01/13 Janelle Irwin
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Update: hundreds of firearms have been turned in including two rocket launchers.

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As gun control debates continue to heat up throughout the country, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will be buying back unwanted guns this Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. They'll give people $75 and tickets to a Rays game and a Lightning game. All of the firearms and ammunition collected will be destroyed. Hillsborough County Sheriff Detective Larry McKinnon said the agency is asking people who want to get rid of their guns to transport them unloaded in the trunk or a locked box. Deputies will collect the firearms at five locations throughout Hillsborough County.

*Sheriff's Operations Center 2008 E. 8th Avenue

*13501 N. Nebraska Avenue (site of closed Sunoco gas station)

*IGA Grocery Store 14720 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

*Sheriff's Town 'N Country Substation 7519 W. Waters Avenue

*Sheriff's Progress Village Substation 7935 Flower Avenue

Any guns will be accepted with no questions asked. People turning them may remain anonymous. The agency will also collect ammunition, pellet guns and paintball guns to destroy. Those items do not qualify for the $75 incentive or the sports tickets.

"Individuals who have made a personal decision that they no longer want the responsibility of owning a firearm, we'll give them a safe place to drop that off. We have some corporate sponsors that have provided us with gift cards that we will return to those individuals that drop off these firearms. We know that last year alone we had 147 burglaries throughout the county where guns were stolen from within the home. So generally if a person no longer wants a gun that they may have acquired from a deceased relative or perhaps they may have bought the gun when they were single and that now they're married and have kids and they don't want that responsibility and they still have a conscionable issue with putting it on Craig's list or selling it to another individual. We give them that opportunity, just like unwanted medications, to drop that gun off and we'll properly dispose of it."

What prompted the agency to do this?

"It's a service that we want to offer. The sheriff's number one priority is violent crime. As you know, a couple of weeks ago we arrested 13 convicted felons that were selling sawed off shotguns, they were selling guns illegally, and a lot of the things that were being sold were actual federal violations because we had one individual that was manufacturing silencers. That was one slice of the pie, if you will. This is just another one. There's a lot of debate, obviously in the last month, on the issues of gun violence and there's not one single answer. We know that there's not one single approach that's going to help reduce crime. We know that this is not going to be 'bad guys turning in guns', but these are guns that we know that those individuals that don't want them anymore. We know because we're going to destroy them and they voluntarily turn them in that they won't get out there on the street and get in the hands of criminals."

You mentioned some incentives for folks who want to turn in their firearms. Can you be more specific and give us some examples of what those incentives are?

"The sheriff's office has partnered with out corporate community and they have donated funds for this operation. What we'll be doing is we'll be giving out $75 as well as a fun pack which would include Rays tickets or tickets to the Lightning. It's an incentive for those to get up and come down and bring them down there. We're positive about it, we think it's going to be very successful and we're looking for a big turnout."

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