Manatee County sheriff buys back guns

  • 2

MANATEE COUNTY--Some people have guns that they do not want but don't know what to do with.

Saturday the Manatee County Sheriff's Office offered those people a hand, giving them cold hard cash in exchange for their firearm. It's a program authorities say helps to keep everyone, gun owners or not, safe.

The piles of guns at the Manatee County Sheriff's Office look as though they came straight from a war zone. But in fact, they came from right from the citizens of Manatee County.

"We basically wanted to get rid of the gun for we feared that it might be stolen," said Pat Hixson, who was selling back her gun.

For the first time since 2009, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office was buying back guns.

The event comes amid growing concern over gun control all across the county. It also follows 2012, a year in which Manatee County saw twenty-seven homicides. One after another, people were turning in their guns.

"Get it out of the house and keep it from falling into the wrong hands," said Al Kosta, who sold his firearms.

And while few if any came from actual criminals, sheriff's officials say any gun turned over is a step in the right direction.

"We always say if you can get one or tow guns that could potentially be used in a crime, that makes it all worthwhile," said sheriff's spokesman Dave Bristow.

Mostly consisting of shotguns and rifles, authorities did collect a few assault-type weapons. Anyone could turn them in, no questions asked, getting fifty dollars for a handgun and one hundred for a long gun.

"The money was great it was just it gave of some incentive to bring it over and get rid of it and be done with it," said Hixson.

But does the program actually cut back on crime? Some we don't really think so.

"It's a good idea but I don't know if it's going to make a dent in the illegal activity going on," said Kosta.

But officials argue it does have an impact. They say if the guns are destroyed, which those collected ultimately will be, then there's no chance of them falling into the wrong hands.

None of the money that was paid out came from taxpayers, instead coming from a sheriff's office account funded with money seized in drug raids.