VALLEJO — Among the piles of shotguns and rifles lay a lone green rocket launcher. Not too far away lay an SKS with a bayonet and three semi-automatic AK-47s turned in by an elderly couple.
Those were just a sample of the 344 weapons turned in Saturday at the first countywide gun buyback, a joint effort between Solano County law enforcement agencies that also included the California Highway Patrol plus the probation and parole departments, said Sgt. Mike Pimentel of the Solano County Sheriff’s Office.
“I’ve seen the gamut,” he said of the guns turned in. “Everything from hunting rifles to rusty hulks to good firearms.”
People were eager to unload their unwanted weapons. Even though the event didn’t begin until 10 a.m., 35 to 40 cars were lined up in three rows before 9 a.m., much to Pimentel’s surprise, he said. Not 90 minutes after opening, 235 guns had been collected. By 1 p.m. that count jumped to 305.
“I’m kind of surprised we got this many,” he said after learning the count surpassed 300. “If you have unwanted firearms, it’s a safe, responsible way to get rid of them.”
Anonymous as well. Anonymity was allowed, but only a handful opted not to give their names.
The cars moved through three stations. At the second station, while those turning in guns sat in their cars, the firearms officers accessed the guns and gave information such as make, model, caliber and serial number to the evidence technician. At the third station, gift cards donated by Team Chevrolet in Vallejo or cash were given out – $100 for working handguns, rifles and pistols or $200 for assault weapons.
Officer Dave Marsh of the Vacaville Police Department worked at removing the guns from trunks, some from the passenger compartment of vehicles. In addition to the assault rifles, he saw a lot of inexpensive handguns, “Saturday night specials,” he said.
“(Those) are good to get off the street,” he said.
The reasons offered for turning in the guns varied, such as deceased relatives had owned the guns, Marsh said. He had one man tell him he found the gun in his backyard when he moved in.
Solano County resident Lilye Stallworth turned in a gun that belonged to her ex-husband. He wanted the gun, she didn’t.
“I forgot about it until I moved,” she said. “With all the things going on with the shootings, I don’t want it.”
Law enforcement destroyed some guns with a chop saw on the spot. The bulk will be taken to the Vallejo Police Department evidence facility, Pimentel said. They will be run through a law enforcement database to determine if they’re stolen. Stolen firearms will be returned to the originating agencies that reported them stolen. The guns will then be returned to the owners.
The rest will be destroyed.
Pimentel lauded the county’s law enforcement agencies for how well they pulled together.
“I was really pleased with the cooperation between the agencies that were there,” he said. “We all worked together like we’d been doing that for years.”
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.
Source: Vallejo Police Department