Sacramento police net at least 17 firearms at gun buyback on north side of capital

The Sacramento Police Department collected at least 17 firearms on Saturday morning as part of a three-hour gun-buyback event at the William J. Kinney Police Facility in the Hagginwood neighborhood, said spokesman Cody Tapley.

The number was small, compared with a May 2023 event that Tapley said netted 128 firearms within 2 hours. but Roger Dickinson, a candidate vying to represent the city council district where the event was held, said the effort was still worthwhile.

“Gun violence destroys families, destroys neighborhoods, destroys our communities,” Dickinson said, “and anything that we can do to reduce gun violence is a very good thing. I’m delighted that the police department is holding this event. I hope they have the resources and the ability to even do this more often.”

Police have stressed that they ask no questions of people who drop off the firearms. Those who surrendered guns received a $50 gift card.

An official count of how many guns were collected will be released in the next week, Tapley said. The last three gun-buyback events had been at the police headquarters in south Sacramento, Tapley said, so the department decided to hold an event on the city’s north side to make drop-off easier for residents in the area.

No residents came in to drop off weapons while a Bee reporter was at the event.

Stockton Douglas Hunt and other members of an ecumenical Christian group volunteered at Saturday’s event and met a few residents who told him that they had inherited weapons they had never used. They now had grandchildren in their homes, he said, and they didn’t want to take the chance that an accident could happen.

On a table at the event, Hunt and his group displayed garden tools produced from firearms collected at prior buyback events around the country. He picked up a small garden trowel that one of his sons had found on sale in Washington, D.C., and had purchased as a gift for Hunt’s 79th birthday.

“We are part of a national movement called Guns to Gardens, part of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship,” Hunt said. “It is promoting the idea of transforming guns into garden tools.”

Hunt’s Guns to Gardens group hopes to one day produce tools they can give away at events, similar to what an Oakland chapter of Guns to Gardens has done on a larger scale at gun-buyback events in that city. People who drop off firearms get both a gift card and a garden tool, Hunt said.

So, his group tested out what it would take to get approval to do similar work with the Sacramento Police Department, he said. They cleared security hurdles and signed a contract with sculptor Gina Rossi of Rossi Sculptural Designs, perhaps best known locally for her artistic bike sculptures outside local businesses such as New Helvetia Brewing Co. on Broadway and BevMo on J Street.

This collaboration proved out the concept: Rossi produced three other gardening tools on the table in front of Hunt: a five-claw hand rake, a large garden trowel and a trenching tool.

Like the garden spade that Hunt got as a gift, however, those tools were so expensive to produce that they couldn’t simply be given away, Hunt said, so his group has planned a meeting with a blacksmith to see if they can lower the cost.

After past events, the Sacramento Police Department has booked and later destroyed the weapons that they collect, except if a firearm is found to have been stolen. Then, Tapley said, they attempt to return it to the rightful owner.

Past studies of gun-buyback programs have shown that these events alone do not have any impact on citywide gun crime rates. Typically, the surrendered weapons are not the type used in violent crimes, UC Davis researcher Garen Wintemute said, and often, it is mature adults, not youth, who are turning in weapons.

However, Wintemute’s research, and studies by other individuals, have shown that when gun buybacks are paired with violence prevention campaigns they resonate with the cultural values of different communities.

Tapley said that the Sacramento Police Department partners with several community-based organizations and faith-based organizations to help spread the word and prevent gun violence.