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LPD, Crimestoppers Create Gun Buyback Program

LAWTON Okla_ All across the country, unwanted guns are turning into cold hard cash, gift cards or other incentives. Now, the Lawton Police Department is getting in on the action. 

They've teamed with Crimestoppers to create an incentives-based program, where unwanted guns can be exchanged for something valuable.

The Gun Buyback Program is still very much in the works, but the idea is to get as many guns off the streets as possible. LPD is hoping that a gift card will entice people to turn in their firearms.

It's no secret that illegal guns roam the streets of Lawton. They contribute to robberies, assaults, and the death toll. For the last few months, Crimestoppers investigators and the chief of police have bounced ideas off one another. They're trying to answer the question: "How can we get these illegal guns off the streets?" They're following in the footsteps of other departments all across the nation.

"No questions asked, they bring the gun, the get a card, they go," said LPD Captain Craig Akard.

It's a simple idea that's really taking off. From LA to Boston, guns are being traded.

"Most of those agencies believe that it is helping get the guns off the streets," Akard said, "And out of the hands of certain people that don't need them. That's what everybody's concerned about right now."

In Lawton, the fate of a seized gun will depend upon whether the guns serial number is still intact. If it's not, it will be destroyed.

"Dealers come in and look at the lot of guns that we have, and the dealers say ‘Okay, with the lot of guns that you have, I will give you X amount of dollars for it.'," Akard said. "From that, we turn around on their prices of the weapons and say ‘Okay, you give us X amount of dollars, we need so many handguns, so many rifles, so many shotguns.'"

While LPD is looking to get some guns out of the deal, some police stations across the country are looking to make some serious cash. Newark, New Jersey just received a check for $20,000 after they took confiscated guns off the street, melted them down, turned them into bracelets and sold them on the Internet.

Of course, LPD hopes the incentives encourage illegal gun owners to trade their weapons. They said there are plenty of reasons for people to participate in a gun buyback program.

"Maybe a couple had been married for a long time, and he used to be in the military," Akard said. "When he got out, he ended up having a gun or two, and something happened. He's passed on, the wife's there, she's cleaning out the house, and she finds the guns. She doesn't know what to do with them. She doesn't want them."

The next challenge LPD and Crimestoppers will face in the process of getting this program off the ground is getting the initial funding to purchase the incentives.

We'll keep you updated on the status of the program and let you know when and where you can trade your guns, no questions asked.

 

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