29 guns removed from the streets during Bradenton Police Department's buy-back

rdymond@bradenton.comJune 18, 2012 

BRADENTON -- Perhaps nothing is as sinister-looking as a sawed off shotgun, whose main mission in life is to inflict damage with a wide spray pattern of buckshot.

But three of these shotguns with shortened barrels and one sawed off .22-calber rifle were right out in the sunlight, laid side-by-side on a folding table during a gun buy-back conducted by the Bradenton Police Department.

When it was over, the department took 29 weapons off the street during its 2012 annual Father's Day Gun Buy-Back Program at two sites Sunday, said Sgt. Eddie Weldon of the Bradenton Police Department.

The department received 18 revolvers, including a .357-caliber Magnum by Smith & Wesson valued at around $400, a .38-caliber former police-issued gun and a .22-caliber handgun.

There were nine rifles received, including the three sawed-off weapons.

There were also two semi-automatic handguns turned in, including a Lorcin .380-cali

ber semi-automatic valued at about $500, which could fire eight or nine rounds with the magazine that came with it, Weldon said.

"Overall, I would say it was very successful," Weldon said of the buy-back.

"We don't ask any questions," Weldon added of the program, which grants complete amnesty for the day. "We don't ask to see any paperwork on the gun. There isn't a lot of conversation. People drop off the guns and get their gift cards."

The people who turned in the two semi-automatic handguns each received a $50 gift card from Bealls Outlet Store and the rest of the 27 got $25 gift cards from Bealls, which was the amount set for revolvers and non-semi-automatic rifles, Weldon said.

No one turned in an assault rifle or automatic weapon, which were worth a $75 Bealls gift card.

"We had gun owners bring them in, as well as family members," Weldon said. "A father brought in a gun his son had and that he didn't want in the house. This is a program we have run for about the last 10 years."

The guns will all be melted down in a facility in Tampa, Weldon said.

Perhaps the only disappointing aspect of the day was that all of the guns came in at one site, at the corner of 14th Street West and 21st Avenue West.

No guns were turned in to Officer Tim Smith who was stationed at the corner of 9th Avenue East and 15th Street East in East Bradenton from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"We would have liked someone to have participated," Smith said.

About 1 p.m. a woman who is known to Smith and the East Bradenton community as being a strong anti-crime, anti-violence advocate pulled into the parking lot across from Foodland where Smith was stationed to check how many guns were turned in from her community.

"She was very disappointed that no guns came in here," Smith said. "She said there are guns in this community that needed to be turned in."

Both sites were chosen because they are hubs of previous gun-related violence.

"We've had shootings at Foodland and across the way at the vacant lot that is now the Dollar General," said Smith, a 25-year police veteran.

"I think it's great they do this," said Stanley Garcia, a New Jersey resident visiting his mother in Sarasota and returning from attending church at nearby Sacred Heart Catholic Church. "I'm shocked how many guns are here. I'm against guns.

"Please, keep up the good work," Garcia said to Weldon and his two partners, Officer Phillip Waller and Officer Jay Gow.

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