CATHEDRAL CITY — In an effort to reduce the number of unwanted firearms in the community, Police Chief Travis Walker has proposed a “Gift for Guns” program to help rid the city of them and reduce the potential for these weapons to cycle through illegal networks or end up as potential hazards in homes.

Walker is proposing that this fall, the Cathedral City Police Department host a one-day “Gift for Guns” program at a secure location within the city. The event would be advertised in advance with an emphasis that no questions are asked of those who hand over their unwanted firearms.

The Gift for Guns program will provide individuals who turn in unwanted firearms with gift cards to local businesses according to a basic price menu that we will establish, according to Walker.

Chief Proposes Gun Buyback Plan in Cathedral City

Police Chief Travis Walker

“The firearms collected will be checked against law enforcement databases and ultimately destroyed,” Walker said in his proposal to the City Council. “Any stolen firearms that are recovered will be returned to the rightful owners.  The firearms recovered will ultimately be melted down and turned into steel rebar; the rebar is used for a variety of construction projects.”

The plan is to seek financial donations from within the community to buy the gift cards that will be provided in exchange for firearms. Some cities have used cash to buy back guns in similar programs but found that the cash was often used  to buy more guns.

“It is our desire to see the “Gifts for Guns” program help ensure that we help provide the means for members of our community to safely dispose of their unwanted firearms, while receiving a monetary reward for doing so,” Walker said. “The ultimate removal of these firearms will help prevent them from ending up in the hands of the criminal element.”

The City Council will consider the chief’s proposal at its July 11 meeting. It is expected to receive the City Council’s full support.

Chief Proposes Gun Buyback Plan in Cathedral City

Mayor Stan Henry

Mayor Stan Henry, who served as Chief of Police in Cathedral City from 1995 to 2010, said he did something similar and referred to Walker’s proposal as a “great idea.”

“Any opportunity to get guns off the streets is good,” Henry told Uken Report.

The program affords an opportunity to the elderly and those who have had guns around their residences for years and no longer want them to get finally rid of them, Henry said. Some perhaps simply do not know what to do with them.

“It also gets the businesses and the community involved in making a difference in the city,” Henry said. “A lot of times these guns fall into the hands of criminals when residents become victims of burglaries.”

The buyback program is proposed against the backdrop of increased frequency of mass shootings in the United States.

Chief Proposes Gun Buyback Plan in Cathedral City

Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pettis

“With the increased rise in gun violence across the country and inaction of the federal government, local municipalities must take into their own hands various means to protect our residents.” Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pettis told Uken Report. “Periodically we have reviewed our policies and programs to see where we can enhance them and we believe this program will be a good addition to our other efforts.”

The popular buyback programs really do collect guns. Depending on where they are held, they can average about 30 guns per event. In metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and Seattle, the programs have fetched 2,000 or more guns in a single day.

According to the Congressional Research Service, there are roughly twice as many guns per capita in the United States as there were in 1968: more than 300 million guns, just shy of being enough to arm every man, woman and child in the country.

The United States is by far the world’s leader in gun-related deaths. In December, the CDC published data showing 38,658 gun deaths for 2016, including suicides. The number of gun deaths recorded by CDC researchers has increased for two consecutive years.