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Fort Worth police end four-day gun buyback event early due to large turnout

Fort Worth officers exchanged $100 gift cards with people who voluntarily, and safely, surrendered their unloaded guns.

FORT WORTH, Texas — A four-day gun buyback event wrapped up in just a matter of hours in Fort Worth. 

Officials said more than 100 weapons were collected at the Northwest Division of the Fort Worth Police Department.

On Monday, Fort Worth officers exchanged $100 gift cards with people who voluntarily, and safely, surrendered their unloaded guns.

In the past, the event has been hit or miss, but in light of recent events involving gun violence across the country, FWPD anticipated a steady turnout.

The department didn't expect what it saw in just one day of the program.

Commander Dave Carabajal has been with Fort Worth police for 19 years. He has never seen a larger collection since they started offering the opportunity. He talked about who they expected to take advantage of the gun buyback.

"Maybe was inherited, maybe just lying around. They had no use for and they didn't want it to fall into the wrong hands or the hands of a child," said Carabaja. "We respect everybody's rights, everyone that came in here voluntarily and they got something out of it."

Officers planned to collect weapons for four days. But they run out of gift cards within hours, collecting 112 handguns and rifles of almost every make and model, according to police. 

None of the funds used to purchase the gift cards came from taxpayer money. The program uses confiscated monies for gun buyback events.

One of their goals is to keep weapons like these out of the wrong hands. 

Vanessa Bennett couldn't agree more, especially concerned about her 14-year-old grandson hiding a gun at home. While his grandfather handled the talk about the dangers of teens in his age group illegally possessing weapons, Bennett wanted him to learn there could be consequences for his actions.

"Young boys like my grandson are getting these guns in their hands and being influenced to use them in bad ways. That's my main concern," said Bennett, "I just want to save lives. I want my grandson to live."

Michael Santos is a concerned gun owner who drove from Dallas to participate in the gun buyback program. He purchased the handgun he planned to surrender from a friend years ago. The handgun worked fine when he bought it.

"I'm not anti-gun, but I am anti-violent violence," Santos said. "It doesn't work like it's supposed to anyway, but I just feel that if I ever get broken into, somebody else could use it for the wrong purposes."

No surprise to police, people referring to themselves as a gun rescue group also attended the gun buyback. In some cases, they offered people more than the $100 dollar gift card being offered by officers. 

Some people agreed to accept the higher offer, but others like Michael had concerns about what the gun rescue group planned to do with the weapons they bought.

Santos said, "I don't know where they are from, who they are, and what they're going to do with the gun."

All of the weapons voluntarily surrendered to Fort Worth police will be destroyed sooner than later. None of the weapons will be put back into circulation.

One of the guns voluntarily surrendered at the Northwest Division came from a woman who found that gun in the bushes. Although police do not question people surrendering weapons at all, she shared with officers she feared the wrong person might use the gun for the wrong reason. 

Later, a random records check on the serial number revealed the gun had been reported stolen in another nearby city.

Carabajal said, "A responsible person that came in because she doesn't want to see anyone harmed."

Although FWPD ran out of the $100 gift cards for people voluntarily surrendering their weapons, there is still a way to safely get rid of an unwanted gun. 

Fort Worth residents can all the FWPD non-emergency telephone number at 817-392-4222 to schedule a safe weapons surrender. All weapons being voluntarily surrendered should first be unloaded for safety purposes.

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