Oakland is often criticized for its gun violence, then not recognized when it tries to do something about it.
On Saturday, the Oakland Police Department set up the city’s first ever gun buyback in a Caltrans lot in Fruitvale.
The net recovery? 12 guns.
OPD Lt. Blair Alexander, in charge of the buyback operation, told the Trib he was disappointed in the lack of support it received:
“The more people who come out, the more they send a message of a united front against violence.”
Community leaders including 100 Mothers, which focuses on gun violence, had organized the effort. Oakland residents had donated $10,000 to help with the gun buyback effort.
Those who surrendered guns received $100 and could give away up to two firearms.
To support the buyback, and to bring about a message of peace Saturday, two groups of protesters marched from opposite sides of Oakland to converge at Ignacio de la Fuenta Plaza in Fruitvale. Marchers told stories of loved ones lost to violence.
Oakland officials said last week that after four months of cooperation with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 90 guns had been removed from the streets.
Meager turnout for Saturday’s buyback didn’t dampen supporters of the concept who wish to start a program to give refurbished laptops and computer training for at-risk young people seeking to trade a weapon for an opportunity.
ATF agents told Oakland Mayor Jean Quan that buying guns in Oakland was easier than anywhere else. Another buyback is set to take place in August or September.
Quan said these community efforts are a powerful force in removing guns from the streets and curbing violence:
“What these 100 moms are doing here is going to be just as powerful as having 50 federal agents.”