Hundreds swap guns for gift cards at buyback event

More than 200 weapons were collected during a gun buyback event in San Jose on Saturday, a spokesman for a Santa Clara County supervisor said.

The second annual buyback event started at 9 a.m. and concluded at 1 p.m. Saturday at the San Jose Police Activities League stadium at 680 34th St., Jeff Cardenas, a spokesman for Supervisor Cindy Chavez, said.

San Jose police organized the buyback in collaboration with city, Santa Clara County, and state officials, he said.

There were 463 firearms collected during last year’s gun buyback event, city officials said.

Cardenas said organizers hoped Saturday’s event would match the number of weapons collected last year and have yet to finalize the number of the weapons collected.

More assault weapons were turned in this year compared to 2013, which Cardenas called a “positive takeaway” since they have a higher capacity.

Those who turned in firearms received a $100 Target gift card for each handgun, rifle and shotgun and a $200 Target gift card for each assault weapon, police said.

The gift cards were funded through money raised by the San Jose Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization. Contributions were also made through city and county officials and community organizations, according to Cardenas.

The buyback was an opportunity for people to get rid of their unused guns that would otherwise end up in the wrong hands by accident in exchange for gift cards to use for holiday shopping, Cardenas said.

A child could end up handling a firearm and potentially cause an injury or a weapon could be stolen during a burglary or robbery, he said.

Gun buyback events were also scheduled in San Francisco and Oakland on Saturday.

The Police Department’s gun buyback program “is designed to reduce the number of unwanted firearms and reduce gun violence within the City of San Jose,” police Sgt. Heather Randol said in a statement.

The collected guns will first be checked to see if they are lost or stolen, and if they are will be returned to their legal owners, police said.

The remaining firearms will be destroyed, according to police.

Attendees were asked to unload weapons from the trunk of their car as no one is allowed to walk-up to the event with a firearm, police said.

The weapons were required to be functional when turned in and no ammunition was accepted, according to police.

Officials at Saturday’s event included San Jose police Deputy Chief Dave Hober, San Jose councilmen Xavier Campos and Ash Kalra, Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez and Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose.

The event was held a day before the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 20 children and six teachers.

The San Jose event has “had a high success rate compared to our Bay Area neighbors” in the past two years and organizers hope the event would work in “leading the way for gun safety,” Cardenas said.