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San Antonio Will Host Its First Gun Buyback Event This Week

On Nov. 19 the city will invite gun owners to the Alamodome to safely dispose of unwanted weapons in its first-ever drive-through event. In exchange for each firearm they turn in, participants will receive a gift card of varying values.

The city of San Antonio is hosting its first gun buyback program on Sunday, Nov. 19 at the Alamodome, inviting area gun owners to safely dispose of unwanted weapons.

Gun owners will receive an H-E-B gift card for each firearm they hand in.

Backed by District 9 Councilman John Courage, the drive-thru event is open to anyone who lives in San Antonio or surrounding communities in the hopes of taking firearms out of circulation.

"We can ask people to turn in weapons they no longer want, that they feel are a danger in their household, that maybe they've found, and exchange those for gift certificates so that people can go buy food for the holiday or go buy Christmas presents for their kids," Courage said on a June episode of the Express-News' Puro Politics podcast.

The voluntary weapons exchange program will begin at noon in Lot B, 100 Montana St. Participants are asked to place their unloaded weapons in the trunk or rear of their vehicles with safeties on and wait for a San Antonio Police Department officer to take them.

Those who want to exchange a firearm can expect the two following questions: How many weapons do you have? Are they loaded and secure?

There will be a limit of 20 weapons per vehicle.

The value of the gift cards depends on the firearm exchanged. The project will pay $50 for a nonfunctioning or home-manufactured weapon, $150 for a rifle or shotgun, $200 for a handgun and $300 for a semi-automatic rifle.

Courage's office previously told the Express-News that guns that can't be traced to a legal owner will be destroyed and used to create a public art project. If a weapon is traceable and found to have been stolen, authorities will return it to the legal owner.

The gun exchange is a long time coming for Courage, who has been wanting to hold such an event since 2017 but previously couldn't find the funding. However, the idea gained traction after the Uvalde massacre that claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers on May 24, 2022.

The North Side councilman accumulated $100,000 in his discretionary funds to help pay for the buyback program, but his office said in June that the project needed to raise about $150,000 more. To help support the event, the San Antonio Area Foundation established a fund to accept tax-deductible contributions called the Safe Weapons Exchange and Education Transfer, or SWEET.

Houston hosted its own weapons exchange program last year to reduce violent crime, recovering 4,200 weapons in four events. Harris County touts the effort as "the most successful gun buyback program in the country's history," according to its website.

(c)2023 the San Antonio Express-News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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