San Francisco gun buyback event enters sixth year

Gun violence prevention advocates, the San Francisco Police Department and the Mayor’s Office on Thursday announced the return of San...

Gun violence prevention advocates, the San Francisco Police Department and the Mayor’s Office on Thursday announced the return of San Francisco’s annual gun buyback event Saturday to help curtail firearm-related crime.

Local youth development organization United Playaz has hosted buybacks at its 1028 Howard St. location since 2014 and removed almost 2,000 guns from future use. Gun owners can drop off handguns for $100 and assault rifles for $200 with no questions asked.

“The gun buyback program provides people with the opportunities to get these guns out of their hands and homes, off the streets and out of our communities,” Mayor London Breed said during a virtual news conference Thursday.

Breed said San Francisco firearm-related incidents went up “during the first seven months of this year compared to last year,” citing the likely relationship between escalating gun violence and lessened in-person support because of COVID-19.

Returned weapons will be turned into raw material for artists represented by the Robby Poblete Foundation’s Art of Peace program.

Robby Poblete Foundation’s founder, Pati Navalta Poblete, founded the nonprofit in honor of her son, who died after being shot by an illegally obtained gun. The same gun was later resold and used to commit another crime.

“That’s what gun violence does in a matter of seconds — it can rob someone of their life, and it can change the lives of everyone left behind including the perpetrators,” Poblete said. “Now we’re in COVID-19, and since the pandemic we’ve seen a sharp increase in gun sales. We have people facing depression due to unemployment and isolation, so when you add guns on top of that you are facing a convergence of major health crises and more loss of life.”

Poblete said that in 2020 and beyond, people can be as passionate about marching against systemic racism as they are with preventing gun violence.

Hence, she wanted to see more guns returned and fewer mothers like her. Other people who lost family members supported the normalization of gun buybacks.

Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, backed United Playaz’s buybacks.

“Me growing up in a neighborhood where I see a lot of my friends and ask about them, they say, ‘Oh, so and so passed away, and so and so passed away.’ It wasn’t due to a natural disease and COVID didn’t take them out – they died because somebody pulled the trigger,” Floyd said. “We need to have many more [buyback programs] all across this nation because we need to take control of our neighborhoods and we need to make sure we will be here tomorrow.”

“In a time when a pandemic is taking place, you’re still thinking about those who will lose their lives to senseless killings,” said Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed, a Baton Rouge motivational speaker and activist whose youngest brother was shot and killed two years ago.

“We’re not against the Second Amendment — we strictly want to get the illegal guns off the street. To have Philonise Floyd be a part of this and have a police department as a part of this lets the world know that even with what happened to George, it’s not something where it turned either of us anti-police,” Reed added.

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