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Seattle, King County plan gun buyback program to help reduce violence

Seattle and King County will launch a Gun Safety Initiative with a gun buyback Saturday, Jan. 26 in downtown Seattle.

The buyback will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the parking lot underneath Interstate 5 between Cherry and James Streets, according to a city of Seattle media release. It will mark the city's first buyback program in 20 years.

The countywide gun buyback initiative will provide a monetary incentive to individuals who turn in firearms, while engaging our communities toward a common goal of reducing gun violence.

Modeled on successful gun buyback programs across the country, the Seattle/King County gun buyback program will consist of an anonymous process in which individuals can turn in their unwanted weapons. Law enforcement officials will not be taking pictures of participants, nor will they be logging license plate numbers or running ballistic tests on the guns that are turned in.

In exchange for dropping off a weapon, individuals will receive a gift card valued at up to $100 in exchange for hand guns, shotguns, and rifles, and up to $200 for assault weapons (as classified in the State of Washington).

“This gun buyback program can help us protect public health and safety and reduce gun violence in our communities,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “We will continue working with the police department and other organizations and agencies on a broad range of solutions to the epidemic of gun violence. I want to thank Amazon, PEMCO, the 5 Point Café and Big Mario’s Pizza, SEOMoz, and other sponsors who are making this program possible.”

Other public officials also support the new program.

“If we can prevent just one child, one innocent bystander, from being the victim of a random accident, or the target of an unstable person, it will be well worth our time and effort,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

“The Sheriff’s Office remains committed to providing a safe place for citizens to turn in guns they no longer want. It is a much better choice to remove an unwanted gun from your home than to leave it where it can be stolen and used in a crime,” said King County Sheriff John Urquhart.

In partnership with the Seattle Police Department, other law enforcement agencies in King County, community and faith based organizations, the gun buyback effort plans to set up locations throughout Seattle and King County where individuals can turn in firearms anonymously, with no questions asked.

The Seattle Police Foundation has committed $25,000 to the Gun Safety Initiative, and will serve as the program coordinator. Corporate sponsors include Amazon, which has committed $30,000 in gift cards that will serve as a monetary incentive for those turning in a gun.

PEMCO has contributed $5,000, and SEOmoz, a Seattle-based search engine and social optimization software company, has contributed $10,000, and the 5 Point Café and Big Mario’s Pizza has contributed $500.

Their funding, along with that of the Seattle Police Foundation, will go toward the purchase of gift cards from other local vendors besides Amazon. Eli Lilly has contributed $1,500 in advertising. Nucor Steel has agreed to make an in-kind contribution and will melt down the guns turned in. The Seattle Police Foundation will continue to solicit contributions to support the gun buyback effort.

Community partners of the gun buyback effort include the Associated Recreation Council, Café Racer, Mount Zion Baptist Church, and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

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