HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A gun buyback event was successful enough that Houston and Harris County are planning another one.
The city and county collected 845 guns on Saturday and gave out $100,000 worth of cash gift cards ranging from $50 to $200 apiece. They collected rifles and handguns, old and newer, some of which Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said were merely an effort to take advantage of the offer. Roughly 50 of those guns were so-called ghost guns, and they won't be part of the program in the future.
"We did get some ghost guns where people may have 3D printed or made these guns specifically for the gun buyback program," Turner told ABC13. "We will eliminate that portion."
Organizers will also add more staffing to the next effort, which the Mayor believes is important if a not small component of his multi-pronged anti-crime initiative One Safe Houston. But the program is not without its critics. Harris County's District Attorney Kim Ogg sent a letter the day before the buyback-telling law enforcement the "no questions asked" part of the program could harm potential criminal cases if a gun was involved in a crime or was stolen.
"The intentions were good, but the program needs to be refined," First Assistant District Attorney David Mitcham said. "The no questions asked aspect of the program undermines the prosecution of crime."
They point to a case in 2021 that ABC13 covered in which forensics from an accidental shooting led to a break-in and an unrelated murder, the same gun in two different shootings.
Additionally, several studies over the past decade that call into question how effective buybacks are in reducing crime. But Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis said the buyback is only one plank in a broad approach.
"Gun buybacks that are successful are ones that are part of a larger package," Harris County Pct. 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis said. "If we got one gun, just one, that could have killed somebody. If that person was me, you, or one of your listeners, it was well worth it."
They are planning another buyback in the coming weeks, likely in another part of the city.
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