HOUSTON — Houston is getting ready to host its third gun buyback event.
The event will be held on Feb. 18 from 8 a.m. to noon at Deussen Park in northeast Harris County.
People turning in guns will get gift cards ranging from $50 to $200, depending on the type of weapon and whether it still works.
“We don’t ask questions,” said Commissioner Rodney Ellis of Harris County Precinct 1. “We don’t care if they come from other counties.”
Law enforcement will check whether guns are linked to crimes before destroying them.
Gun buybacks are part of One Safe Houston, a $63 million multi-faceted violent crime reduction program Mayor Sylvester Turner launched in February 2022.
The city held its first gun buyback at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in July 2022. Officials reported collecting 845 guns at the event. The second one was held in the Alief area where more than 1,200 guns were collected. Turner said that was one of the largest, "if not the largest," gun buyback events in U.S. history.
“Just last week, the (Major Cities Chiefs Association) published statistics for the majority of the major U.S. cities for 2022,” said Turner on Monday. “The City of Houston had the largest drop in most serious crimes of any metropolitan region in the country.”
Critics said studies have shown no real evidence that gun buyback programs reduce crime.
On Monday, Doug Griffith, President of the Houston Police Officers Union, called the effort a “feel-good program”.
“The focus on this is not so much gun violence directly that’s used for illegal purposes,” said Commissioner Ellis, responding to a question about results from previous events. “It’s to get unwanted guns. It’s a big region.”
“We’re providing a safe way to dispose of them so that they do not end up in the wrong hands or on the streets,” said Houston City Council Member Abbie Kamin, who chairs the city’s public safety commission.
Monday’s announcement about the event was held in front of an anti-gun violence mural at Worthing High School in southeast Houston.
“A lot of times, some stuff could happen at school, and then people would threaten to shoot the school or something, so then we’ll have to go on lockdown,” said one student. “I’m honestly kind of glad that guns are getting taken off the streets so we don’t have to worry as much as we normally would.”
Harris County Commissioners Court previously approved eight total gun buyback events.
Federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act are covering the cost.