Hundreds of firearms have been taken off the streets of Oakland and San Francisco in a gun buyback program that Oakland police Officer Johnna Watson described as a “huge success.”
In exchange for $200 in cash, Oakland officers collected 300 guns, while San Francisco police collected 290 during Saturday’s holiday gun buyback program, Watson said Sunday.
The buyback, announced earlier this month, was the largest exchange of cash for guns that Oakland had ever held, Watson said.
The buyback happened to take place the day after a man with a rifle went on a rampage, killing 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school Friday — perhaps spurring more people to turn over their weapons.
It also occurred just a few hours after four people were wounded in a shooting between an occupant of a car and a man standing on an East Oakland sidewalk, police said.
“What inspired me really was the incident that just took place in Connecticut, and my own son was murdered,” Emad Abdullah told television station KTVU (Ch. 2). “I just want to help out.”
The weapons collected by Oakland police included handguns, a fully automatic assault pistol, shotguns, rifles and a rifle with a bayonet attached to it, Watson said.
“Given the tragedy that happened last Friday at the elementary school, whatever small part we can do to prevent a tragedy like that and save even one life is worth our time and effort,” Watson said.
“This was a huge community effort,” she said. “I can only imagine if we had longer and if we had more money what the total would be.”
So many people showed up to turn in firearms in Oakland that the line of cars approaching a church parking lot where the buyback was being held stretched for nearly two miles, Watson said.
About 80 people had to be turned away, but police made arrangements so those people could exchange their guns at a later time, Watson said.
In San Francisco, people stood in steady rain outside a boys club where the exchange was being held.
After Friday’s shooting rampage in Connecticut, Tony Vaughn, 52, decided to turn in his .22-caliber rifle.
“Not just better for this city, but for the whole world,” Vaughn told the San Francisco Chronicle.
San Francisco police did not immediately return a call seeking additional details of the program.