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After DA's office raises red flags about Houston's gun buyback program, mayor says no 'ghost guns' next time

District Attorney Kim Ogg said the "no questions asked" policy could affect criminal investigations if any of the 845 guns turned in were involved in crimes.

HOUSTON — The City of Houston is calling this weekend’s gun buyback event a success with 845 guns collected off the streets. 

However, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg isn't a fan of the idea. 

She's warning city leaders against using the buyback program again with no questions asked.

Ogg expressed concern about the way the program is operating in a letter dated July 28, saying the policy gives “anonymity and immunity for everyone who turns in a weapon.“ 

Her office said there might be a number of unintended consequences, like chain of custody evidence being destroyed.

RELATED: City of Houston calls first annual gun buyback event a success

“This is extremely important on a number of different legal issues and also to be able to solve crime,” First Assistant DA David Mitcham told us Monday. "Someone is turning in a gun that is related to a crime and then there’s no way of being able to follow up an investigation because identification wasn’t pursued whenever they turned the gun in."

Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Tuesday the next buyback event would have at least one change: So-called "ghost guns" will not be accepted.

"One of our primary goals in this gun buyback program and any future event is to establish a safe and secure environment for citizens to turn in unwanted guns," Turner said in a statement. "The community response was robust and we also learned that in future gun buybacks we will need to establish some guidelines regarding Privately Manufactured Firearms. This program was not designed to establish a place for PMFs to be profitable but rather to get unwanted firearms off the streets of Houston that could become crime guns."

Turner said he’s doing what he can with One Safe Houston initiative to help tackle gun violence in Houston.

“There are way too many guns on the streets that are killing people. In fact, gun violence is the leading cause of death for our children now in this country,” Turner said. “Anything we could do to take these unwanted guns off the street and keep them from being in the hands of those who are with a criminal mindset, it’s a plus."

Turner said they gave out nearly $100,000 in gift cards to the people who surrendered them.

“This 9-millimeter is one of the guns that’s been taken in, we’ve taken in ghost guns, rifles, automatics," the mayor said. 

At one point, the buyback line of cars at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church stretched for two miles, and they had to keep it open hours longer than planned.

But Ogg's office called on the administration to make changes to the program by prioritizing identification before they do another one.

“If the person’s on the up and up there shouldn’t be any legitimate reason why they wouldn’t be identified as they’re turning in the firearm,” Mitcham said.

Houston’s Mayor says the program is about saving lives.

“To the extent we can create a safer and healthier environment by the gun buyback program then it was worth it,” he said.

Some people who lined up to turn in their guns Saturday agreed.

"Man, it is so crazy out here. The more guns we get off the streets the better it is trying to get something positive done,” Marvin Washington told us.  

"It's too much crime going right now. We just thought we could do whatever we can to help,” Brian Carr said.

Turner committed to continuing the program as the city gave vouchers to people unable to make it through the line for next time.

The Houston Police Department was unaware of the letter.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office had no comment since they didn't participate in the city's buyback event.

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