In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., people around the country are again focusing on ways to get guns off the streets.
One method employed by the San Francisco Police Department is a gun buyback program occurring this weekend. SFPD officers will pay $200 dollars for each unloaded gun traded in by someone with a valid proof of San Francisco residency, such as a driver's license or utility bill. And Oakland police officers are planning to do the same.
"How many times have we heard, 'there's too many guns, there's too many guns,'" Joe Marshall, executive director of the Omega Boys Club in San Francisco, told the Oakland Tribune. "This is a chance to get some of those weapons off the street."
This event marks the first time that both cities have teamed up to coordinate on a gun buyback program.
CBS San Francisco notes that requiring proof of residency is meant to address issues that arose during a previous buyback program in 2008, when individuals and gun dealers traveled in from outside of the immediate area and traded in old, non-functioning weapons that had little risk of ending up involved in the street-level gun violence the program is targeted at preventing.
Police assert that, other then verifying residency, the process of turning over the guns will be completely anonymous--no personal information will be recorded and no questions will be asked about how the firearms were obtained.
A similar San Francisco program in 2007 was able to get 106 guns off the street.
Critics of these types of gun buyback programs have charged that they are an ineffective and indirect way of reducing gun violence. "It's like trying to drain the Pacific with a bucket," Alex Tabarrok, research director at the Oakland-based think tank the Independent Institute, explained to USA Today. "More guns are going to flow in."
The San Francisco buyback will happen at the Omega Boys Club (1060 Tennesee Street) and the Oakland event will occur at St. Benedict's Church (2245 82nd Avenue). Both are scheduled for Saturday, December 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m..
Check out this slideshow of how Bay Area leaders reacted to Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School:
"For those calling for the postponement of any discussion of gun and mental health policy in America – you are wrong. Just WRONG! We postponed after the President and his press secretary, James Brady were shot more than 30 years ago. We postponed after the tragedy in Columbine 13 years ago. We postponed after Virginia Tech five years ago. We postponed after Representative Gabriel Giffords was shot in 2011. We postponed in July when a mentally disturbed James Eagan Holmes opened fire in a crowded movie theatre. And earlier this week, people said it was too soon to talk about gun and mental health policy when a gunman opened fire at a crowded mall in Oregon. Today, President Barack Obama addressed the nation from the White House briefing room named for James Brady and now we turn to our political leaders to finally and decisively act. Prayers are important. We are a nation that always prays at times of great tragedy. But prayer is not enough as we learn in James 2 14-26, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works...Faith without works is dead.” Today is a clarion call to all leaders, regardless of political party, to act purposefully. Senseless gun violence is not simply about gun control. It must also include meaningful discussion of mental health policy in America. Political parties must be realistic – Democrats can’t draw the line in the sand at banning all guns and Republicans can’t dig in on the status quo. The NRA and the gun lobby are not supportive the President and now is the time for him to give them a real reason. The President must call the question. Put the gun lobby on the bench. Call on every member of congress to step out from behind the money and power of the gun lobby and act before we are lulled back into a false sense of security and forget to have the conversation again until the next tragedy. There are families in Connecticut, Oregon, Virginia, California, Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin and every other state that have suffered loss due to gun violence and they do not want a postponement this debate any longer. How many more people have to die before we decide the time is right to have this debate and take action? Now is a time for prayer…and leadership."
“No words can console the parents of the children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School or describe the pain and shock of such an unspeakable tragedy. No words can comfort the loved ones of those brutally taken from us today. All Americans share our prayers and our grief over these horrifying events. “We are all stunned, shocked, and distraught by this tragic shooting, by this violent act, and by the loss of so many young children. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the students, teachers, and educators killed and wounded in Newtown, Connecticut. The entire nation will continue to stand as a source of support to this community in the days and weeks to come.”
"My heart breaks over this senseless tragedy that took so many innocent lives. My prayers go out to their families and to all those who were injured. This touches us all so deeply, and it is long past time that we enacted sensible gun laws and school safety legislation."
“I am horrified and incensed by today’s tragedy in Connecticut. These massacres don’t seem to stop—they continue on and on. “When senseless mass shootings reach into our kindergartens and elementary schools, one has to question what is happening to America. Gun violence took the lives of more than 8,000 Americans last year, and today claimed the lives of at least 18 children. “As I have said many times before—and now repeat in the wake of yet another tragedy—weapons of war don’t belong on our streets or in our theaters, shopping malls and, most of all, our schools. “I hope and trust that in the next session of Congress there will be sustained and thoughtful debate about America’s gun culture and our responsibility to prevent more loss of life.” “But today we mourn for those who have been killed and the families that have been devastated.”
Joint statement with San Francisco Unified School District head Richard Carranza: “San Francisco grieves with those affected by the needless and horrifying violence this morning in Connecticut. Our thoughts, prayers and deep sympathy go out to the families of the children and other victims of this unspeakable tragedy. There is little we can say with our words to provide comfort to those affected, but we can move forward with purpose to do everything we can to prevent such tragedies from ever happening again. In the wake of such a national tragedy, we redouble our efforts to work together to ensure that our students, families and school staff remain safe.”
“As a father, child psychologist, and legislator, my thoughts and prayers go out to the children and families of Newtown. In a year with so many appalling acts of gun violence, this is the most shocking of such tragedies. While we do not have all the details behind this senseless and unconscionable massacre, it is a sad and horrific reminder of what is possible when guns get into the wrong hands. We must limit access to weapons that can result in such catastrophe and mass murder.”
“I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. As a father, I have enormous sympathy for the families that have been affected by this senseless act of violence. Tragedies like this reaffirm the urgent need to remove military style weapons from civil society. My thoughts and prayers are with Newtown, Connecticut.”