ST. LOUIS — An effort to remove guns from the streets of St. Louis is being called a success, so much so that there wasn’t enough money to buy up all of the offered weapons.
Hundreds of people turned out Saturday for a gun buyback program, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported . The city has recorded more than 200 murders this year, the most in two decades, and officials say part of the problem is too many guns.
Those bringing in guns were promised $100 to $200 per weapon, no questions asked. The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, along with individuals and some companies, raised $125,000 in donations.
It wasn’t enough, and some people had to be turned away. Police said 303 handguns, 533 long guns and six assault rifles were purchased.
Willie Shelton, 67, said his brother in Arkansas previously used the pump 20-gauge shotgun he brought in for rabbit hunting.
“It was just sitting in the corner, and I heard on the news that I could get $150,” Shelton said as he stood in line.
Behind him, Stan Sisley carried a .22-caliber rifle in a guitar sack. The gun that he said he inherited had been in a storage unit.
“Might as well get rid of it, and I could use the Christmas money,” said Sisley, 62.
He didn’t get the chance. After the couple waited in the cold for more than two hours, officials began turning people away unless they had assault weapons or wanted to donate their guns.
“Maybe they will be more prepared next time,” Sisley said.
The collected guns will be destroyed.
Doug Albrecht, president of the St. Louis Police Foundation, said more fundraising would be needed for another buyback in 2018.
Mayor Lyda Krewson said the strong turnout “speaks to, first of all, how our community is awash in guns and how difficult that makes our police officers’ job. It also speaks to the good people of this community who went to their basement or garage and said I don’t want this gun to fall into the wrong hands.”
Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards was pleased that many of the weapons were from St. Louis city.
But many of the people in Saturday’s line were not from the city, including Kent Oxman, who works at a pawn shop in St. Charles County and was there to sell a dozen guns.
“The gangbangers and criminals, they aren’t going to turn their stuff in,” Oxman said. “They are still sleeping.”
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com