HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The city of Houston hopes to get guns out of the hands of violent criminals through the gun buyback program.
The program comes at a time when gun violence is growing - especially against children. It's expected to roll out before the school year begins.
Since the start of 2022, more than 200 people have been shot to death in Houston.
"A 16-year-old girl was walking in the park, shot to death. A 17-year-old girl was shot by her brother in a double homicide. An 11-year-old was getting a jacket from his mom's car," Commissioner Rodney Ellis said. "We can't change that overnight, but we can take action by removing the guns off the street."
The program is part of One Safe Houston, which is a $45 million crime incentive. Of that money, $1 million will go toward gift cards to people who return their guns.
Earlier this year, Mayor Sylvester Turner touted the success of the program and announced the homicide rate was down by just 3%.
"It's working. It's effective. It's having an impact," Turner said during a press conference in May.
But seven weeks later, there have been 256 homicides in 2022. That's three more compared to the 253 homicides at this time in 2021. In 2020, the number was 187, according to police data.
"The numbers are flat right now but we are in the middle of summer. I want the numbers to go down even more," HPD Chief Troy Finner said when confronted about the homicide rate drop not lasting long enough.
While the gun buyback program isn't the end-all solution to reducing the homicide rate, officials said it has worked in other cities.
Anyone who wants to participate in the program can do so on Saturday, July 30 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church.