Allentown hosts successful gun buyback

Author: , Reporter, @CatherineH_WFMZ, chawley@wfmz.com
Published: Jul 07 2012 06:02:03 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 07 2012 06:27:09 PM EDT
Gun buyback in Allentown
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Allentown was trading guns for gift cards today. It was the city's first gun buyback program in at least ten years, and police collected more than 100 firearms.

They came wrapped in blankets or packed in purses. One by one folks took their turn handing over unwanted firearms.

"We've had people come out with multiple weapons, rifles, hand guns," explained Assistant Chief Joseph Hanna with the Allentown Police Department.

For each gun officers gave away a $100 gift card to Kmart. The line grew quickly at St. Luke's Evangelical Church in Allentown.

"It's been fantastic," smiled Allentown City Council Member Peter Schweyer. "It's been what we've been hoping for in terms of proactively trying to get unwanted guns off the street."

The program is taking aim at making the streets safer. Residents had to show 3 forms of ID when they handed over the weapons. Then each one was processed to make sure it wasn't stolen or used in a crime.

After four hours officers collected about 70 hand guns and 44 long guns, totaling nearly 114 weapons. So many they had to give some folks IOU on their gift cards.

All of the guns collected will be taken to the Allentown Police property room to be stored, they'll eventually be melted down and destroyed.

"That's one less gun that could end up on the street or end up used for criminal activity," said Hanna

But the buyback isn't targeting any recent gun violence.

"Statistics indicate that crime has gone down in Allentown," said Allentown City Council President Julio Guridy. "I think we're trying everything possible to continue that."

You didn't have to live in Allentown to take part, but the city pulled the trigger on getting unwanted guns out of the community.

"They fall into the hands of criminals, they fall into the hands of children," explained Schweyer. "Unwanted guns are the most dangerous guns in a person's home."

And after an extremely successful event, we may be seeing another program next year.

"I anticipate that we will be running future campaigns of this nature," said Hanna.

If you weren't able to make it out Saturday you can always stop by the police department and turn in any gun you don't want.