San Jose has yet to pull the trigger on gun buybacks
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo introduced numerous local gun control measures on June 8, 2021 including requiring gun owners to have liability insurance. File photo.

    A final vote on San Jose’s first-in-the-nation gun control measures is weeks away, but one of its promised provisions is—as of yet—nowhere to be found.

    While the City Council approved a handful of measures in June, a promise to hold more gun buyback events—where gun owners are able to turn in unwanted firearms in exchange for cash—is still on the horizon with no set date. The already approved gun control measures include requiring all gun shops in the city to audio and video record all firearm purchases.

    As part of Mayor Sam Liccardo’s gun control plan first unveiled in 2019 after the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival and revived just weeks after the May 26 mass shooting at a VTA light rail yard, Liccardo proposed gun buyback programs.

    Liccardo’s office was not immediately available for comment.

    In 2013, then-Councilmember Xavier Campos sponsored a gun buyback event with the San Jose Police Department—the first in 12 years. Other gun buyback events have been held since then, including events in 2014 and 2016 by then-Councilmember Ash Kalra.

    The last time the city and SJPD held a gun buyback event was in 2018.

    “I am not aware of any planned or upcoming gun buybacks,” SJPD spokesperson Sgt. Christian Camarillo told San José Spotlight.

    At a 2018 SJPD-sponsored buyback, residents who turned in handguns, rifles and shotguns got $100 each, and those who turned in assault weapons received $200, provided they transported the firearms in the trunk of a car and without ammunition.

    The city checked if any collected guns were lost or stolen and, if applicable, returned firearms to their legal owners. All other guns collected were destroyed.

    Other entities, including Santa Clara County and the Santa Clara Police Department, have also hosted gun buyback events in the area. The Sheriff’s Office also runs an ongoing gun relinquishment program where residents can turn in unwanted guns.

    The idea to hold gun buyback events is part of the city’s plan to fight gun violence. Liccardo met with President Joe Biden in July at a gun policy roundtable, where the president promised to create five new “strike forces” to help local police stop the flow of illegal firearms in places such as the Bay Area, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

    Another major proposal calls for San Jose gun owners to carry liability insurance and pay into a gun violence-related public fund, which will go before the council for a final vote in the fall. The city attorney’s office is working ensure the measure is legally defensible.

    Gun rights groups promise to sue the city if the council passes the gun control measures.

    “San Jose cannot ‘buy back’ guns it never owned, and it is a waste of taxpayer resources to support programs that have not been shown to improve public safety or reduce crime,” Taylor Svehlak, director of public affairs for the Firearms Policy Coalition, told San José Spotlight. “Worse still, these ‘gun buyback’ programs allow criminals to be paid to anonymously dispose of guns used in crime and destroy evidence. If the city wants to solve violent crimes, perhaps they shouldn’t be helping violent criminals get away with murder.”

    Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.

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