This Saturday, for the first time nine law enforcement agencies on the Monterey Peninsula, from Carmel to Marina to the CHP, will join together for an anonymous gun buyback. The program is being coordinated by the Seaside Police Department. Police Chief Vicki Myers said the idea did grow out of the deadly shooting late last year at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, but perhaps not how you think.
Chief Myers: Following the events out east, we had a Seaside resident come in and turn in his guns. He advised that he had had some guns that he had had for a number of years passed down through his family, and he didn’t want the guns to fall into the wrong hands and to be used for illegal purposes. And so he brought them to the Police Department to have them destroyed. As a result of that, he then generously offered a $5000 donation if the Police Department wanted to host a gun buyback program for the City of Seaside. That prompted discussions with the Peninsula Chiefs and law enforcement agencies for the Peninsula, and we decided to do a regional gun buyback program here on the Monterey Peninsula.
Krista Almanzan: We’re all so aware of the Sandy Hook Shooting. Is there anything you’re seeing locally that’s raising your concern?
Chief Myers: Seaside and the Peninsula has experienced an increase, particularly Seaside, in gang violence. Seaside last year had two homicides, and Sand City also experienced a homicide, and all three of those homicides were related to shootings. So that’s always a concern.
KA: So what would you say is the goal of the gun buyback program?
Chief Myers: Well I’m not aware of any data that indicates that it reduces crime per say. But one of the things that gun buybacks do is they heighten and increase awareness.
KA: Heightening and raising awareness about what in particular?
Chief Myers: About gun safety, about the accessibility of guns. Sometimes people have guns turned into them or passed down through families and they keep them up in a closet in a box or in a drawer somewhere. And it really makes people think. Do I really need that gun? Is that something that I need to keep? And I have grandchildren, do I have nieces and nephews, do I have young people who are in my home who might find that weapon and unfortunately, unintentionally hurt themselves or hurt someone else. So it causes people to start thinking about guns in a different way, or remember a gun they have in their home that they haven’t thought about in years and years and years.
KA: I’m sure in your career you’re heard criticism of gun buyback programs. That is really law abiding citizens turning in their guns, and not the criminals. Do you think that’s a fair criticism?
Chief Myers: I don’t look at it as a criticism. I think it goes back to that heightening of awareness, eliminating the accessibility of certain guns to certain people whether be that someone who wants to hurt themselves, a child who views it as a toy or someone who would break into a home and use it for illegal purposes. So I don’t see that as a criticism. I see that as if we can just remove one gun from the possibility of falling into the wrong hands, it’s a success.
Monterey Peninsula Anonymous Gun Buyback
Saturday, April 6th
9:00am to 5:00pm
Roberts Lake, Seaside (corner of Roberts Avenue and Canyon del Rey)
The buyback is open to Monterey Peninsula Residents. All guns should be unloaded and brought in the trunk of your car. The guns collected will be destroyed after they’re checked to see if they’ve been stolen or used in a crime.
The agencies will pay $100 cash per gun. They’re continuing to raise money for the buyback, so far they have more than $25,000, enough for 250 guns.
For questions or to donate to the program, contact Kathryn at the Seaside Police Department 831-899-6753.