The United States leads the world in the number of firearms per capita, with an estimated 393.3 million guns possessed by civilians – equivalent to about 1.2 guns for every man, woman, and child in the country.
Residents of Houston, Texas turned in over 1,200 firearms on Saturday in an event the city said may have been “the largest” buyback of its kind in the nation’s history.
Police set up shop at the Westchase Park & Ride METRO in the Houston suburb of Alief bright and early Saturday morning, with Houstonians invited to bring in their guns in in exchange for gift cards, with the whole event organized in a drive-through format.
The lines are now CLOSED.
So far, we’ve collected 900 firearms. We will continue to collect the firearms until everyone in line has been served.
We thank everyone for their patience. pic.twitter.com/AQzvNhlKyO
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) October 8, 2022
By 2 pm, some 1,208 firearms were collected, no questions asked, including 368 revolvers, 279 handguns, 243 shotguns, 227 rifles and 91 semi-automatic rifles.
As an incentive, cops gave out $50 gift cards for non-functioning guns, $100 for shotguns and rifles, $150 for semi-auto handguns, and $200 for semi-automatic rifles.
However, there were a couple caveats: anyone coming in to turn in more than 25 guns was asked to book a separate appointment with police and city authorities. Also, organizers did not accept walk-ups, with residents asked to stay in their vehicles for their own safety.
The buyback was the second of its kind since July, and a part of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s OneSafe Houston program – a multi-million dollar violence reduction initiative meant to improve public safety.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said buybacks take “guns off the streets and put them in good hands,” and that police are “looking forward to even more gun buybacks” in the months and years to come.
The United States has some of the highest firearm-related death, suicide, mass shooting, and gun crime rates in the world, ahead of most developing countries and even nations plagued by rampant gang violence and civil conflict. However, gun advocates maintain that Americans’ constitutionally-mandated right to bear arms is the only way for ordinary people to stop government overreach, and suggest that high gun crime rates are caused by a range of socio-economic factors, not firearms themselves.