On Monday, the Pittsburg City Council voted 4-0 to approve funding for a gun buyback program hosted by the Pittsburg Police Department.
The goal is to reduce the guns sold illegally in the community and to reduce the number of associated injuries and deaths. The $100k in funding will not come from the city general fund, but rather from the Pittsburg Power fund balance which would finance the gun buyback program. Any excess funds not utilized at the event will be rolled over to a future firearm and violent crime reduction programs
Chief Steve Albanese explained to the council that since June 1 the police department has been involved in a 90-day campaign to reduce violent crime and gun violence throughout the city. During the campaign, 75 guns have been taken off the street.
“The ability to host a gun buyback program would be the final event to this campaign that we really think would make a big difference in our community,” stated Albanese.
Albanese also said since June 1, they have taken on average 1 gun a day off the street and that 52% of those arrested with illegal firearms were not from our community—they were non-residents. 20 of the 75 guns have been ghost guns while 29 have been unregistered firearms.
“The overall goal of this program is to remove guns off the street and out of our community,” said Albanese.
In the past, Albanese said in 2014 and in 2016 recent gun buyback events resulted in 300 firearms turned in. Most recently, San Mateo County, Marin County and Oakland held buybacks and firearms turned into ranged from 130-500 firearms.
He further highlighted the key objectives of the gun buyback which include:
- Provide members of the community a safe and simple process to dispose unwanted firearms
- Reduce the availability of guns in Pittsburg and surrounding communities
- Raise awareness of the risks of firearms
- Reduce crime and gun violence.
“We looked at this program and its not just about enforcement, its about the three E’s. Education, engagement and enforcement,” said Albanese.
The gun buyback program will be fully managed by the Pittsburg Police Department, including advertising, staffing the event, and destroying the firearms.
According to the Staff Report, the program will pay:
- $50 for non-operable guns
- $100 for handguns/rifles/shotguns,
- $200 for assault rifles and ghost guns.
- The funding all located by the City Council will be used to purchase gift cards from local businesses that will be provided to residents during the event–food, gas, and other local businesses.
Residents will be able to safely bring guns to the event secured in the trunk of their car, and the Pittsburg Police Department will take possession the gun(s) at that point. All firearms collected will be destroyed.
Mayor Holland Barrett White thanked the police department for being innovative but said he was skeptical a program like the gun buyback would help reduce violent crime.
“But I also realize the cost of doing nothing is far greater,” said White. “When you see 75 recovered guns, that speaks volumes for the need of a program like this. It also shows an environment that our police officers are expected to go into and work… it’s a really good starting point.”
Councilmember Jelani Killings asked in terms of the buy back if the firearms were stolen, used in crimes or keep them out of the hands of certain people.
Albanese explained they do not control what firearms are brought in and part of the push is the program is anonymous and to remove guns from the street. He said only 4 of the 75 guns they recovered during their program were stolen.
“I am supportive of this work,” said Killings.
The council then voted 4-0 to approve the program with councilmember Merl Craft absent,.
Note: recently, Pittsburg Police search warrant after a retail theft arrest, resulted in one suspect having 18 illegally possessed firearms.