Local News
4:15 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

New Albany Gun Buyback Ends Six Hours Early After Funds Run Out

Credit Creative Commons

That didn't take long.

A New Albany gun buyback program ended in less than two hours Friday after police accepted about 250 firearms and ran out of money.

"We had a big turnout," said Maj. Keith Whitlow, a New Albany Police spokesman.

"If we do it again in the future, we can learn from our mistakes ... and try to get more people involved."

People were lined up hours before the buyback began, he said.

Police had $50,000 to give — $200 for a handgun, shotgun or rifle and $300 for an assault weapon. The buyback was planned to last eight hours — from noon to 8 p.m., Whitlow said.

Only New Albany residents were eligible to participate, and the people only had to provide proof of residency to participate.

The purpose was to get unwanted firearms out of homes and off streets, Whitlow said. 

Sometimes, those weapons find their ways into the hands of people who aren't lawfully allowed to own them, such as felons. Whitlow noted that many street crimes are committed by people who aren't supposed to have guns. 

NAPD tried to offer more money for each firearm than what they'd get on the streets, he said.

"This is speculation on my part, but I'd be willing to say that probably half the guns we took in today somebody came across these guns — maybe there was a death in the family and it was someone's relative's firearm that got passed down. And they sit around a number of years," Whitlow said.

"The people are not into guns. They don't shoot. They don't hunt. They really don't want a gun around the house because they think it's dangerous. But they don't know how to get rid of a gun like that."

Some people turned in weapons to New Albany Police even after the money ran out, Whitlow said.

The $50,000 came from the city budget, through a line-item designated for use toward quality of life issues, Whitlow said. 

It's unclear if New Albany will have another gun buyback in the future, though Whitlow said the quick end of Friday's program would likely lead officials to consider doing it again.

Earlier this week, a similar gun buyback program in Los Angeles made national headlines after someone turned in a rocket launcher — plus other 2,037 weapons, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Louisville Metro Police have never held a gun buyback, said Alicia Smiley, an LMPD spokeswoman.