GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (Wood) – The Grand Rapids Police Department and the city’s Safe Task Force hosted a gun buyback for the third time on Saturday afternoon.
A row of cars wrapped around two parking lots where gun owners handed over firearms anonymously, with no questions asked. For each gun, anywhere from $100 to $200 was paid depending on the type of gun returned.
“They’re guns I don’t use,” said Stephen Nordyk. “I am neither shooting nor planning to shoot in the future. Christmas is coming and I thought this was more important for my family and my daughter.”
During the first two campaigns, GRPD purchased 267 firearms. This year, police collected more than 360 illegal guns from the streets of Grand Rapids.
“This is part of another crime prevention measure,” said Captain Terry Dixon, GRPD. We are trying to recover as many firearms as possible from the street. Also, we are reimagining and rethinking policing so that these guns don’t fall into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.”
Organizers with the SAFE Task Force also distributed rifle locks to those with other weapons. Locking a gun could be a matter of life or death, SAFE’s Marianne Barrera Young said.
“We had a lot of kids who were playing with guns and shooting themselves,” she said. “Just this year two children died… [the guns] They weren’t locked up and they were playing with it and it exploded and it took a life. You can’t get that back.”
Noordyke said the gun buyback program offers more safety than the alternative.
“It could be superficial,” he said. “You go to meet someone in the parking lot and you don’t know who they are or where they come from. They have the right permits and documents, but you never know what’s going to happen.”
The event is funded by a $40,000 contribution from the SAFE Task Force. Over fifty firearms were collected from this event.