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Gun buyback is ‘one tool’ to prevent deaths, injuries by firearm

San Benito County residents can turn in unwanted guns at Dec. 10 event in Morgan Hill

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen speaks at the podium while flanked by law enforcement and government officials from Gilroy and Morgan Hill at a Dec. 2 press conference at Morgan Hill City Hall. Photo: Michael Moore

Gun violence is a public health crisis in the United States, and an upcoming firearms buyback event in Morgan Hill aims to address the problem by keeping unwanted weapons out of the wrong hands, according to county law enforcement and government officials. 

Some of that violence has occurred in South County. At a Dec. 2 press conference held at City Hall by local officials to promote the Dec. 10 buyback, Morgan Hill Police Chief Shane Palsgrove noted that a public art piece named “Everyone’s Child” just outside the building was created and installed as “a symbol of our community’s commitment to maintaining a non-violent environment for our children.” 

The statue was created in the likeness of Tara Romero, a 14-year-old Morgan Hill resident who was killed in a drive-by shooting near Del Monte and Cosmo avenues Nov. 4, 2011. 

“The ‘Everyone’s Child’ monument calls our community to action, to continue improving our efforts on preventive measures and interventions that will keep our youth safe,” Palsgrove said at the Dec. 2 press conference. “The (Dec. 10) gun buyback is intended to help prevent gun-related violence such as accidental deaths, suicides and to prevent lost or stolen guns from getting into the hands of criminals.”

Also attending and speaking at the press conference were Santa Clara County Supervisors Mike Wasserman and Otto Lee, District Attorney Jeff Rosen, Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine and Acting Sheriff Ken Binder. 

Rosen said a gun buyback is “one important tool our community has to keep us safe” by keeping unwanted firearms out of the hands of burglars and other criminals, curious children and people struggling with mental health concerns. 

“We all have a stake in safety and there are many ways that we can work together to stop gun violence,” Rosen said. “One way is the reason we are here today, to highlight the South County gun buyback.” 

Constantine added that the buyback event will be successful “if we can save one life, if we can prevent one robbery.” 

The Dec. 10 gun buyback event will take place 9am-2pm at the Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center on Condit Road. MHPD officers and other law enforcement officers on site will offer $100 cash for unwanted handguns and rifles, and $200 for ghost guns and assault rifles—“no questions asked,” Rosen said. 

Binder at the Dec. 2 press conference cited gun violence statistics to point out the danger of unwanted firearms, noting that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has labeled firearm related injuries and deaths a national public health concern. 

In 2020, there were 45,222 gun related deaths in the U.S. More than half of these are due to suicide, Binder said. Death by firearms is one of the top five causes of death for people age 1-44 in the U.S. 

“That’s why we’re doing the gun buyback,” Binder said “It’s one of several efforts that the leadership of Santa Clara County is doing to reduce gun related violence suicide and injury.”

The acting sheriff also noted that anyone who can’t attend the Dec. 10 gun buyback can still relinquish unwanted firearms year-round. The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office accepts unwanted guns 365 days a year, allowing firearm owners to give up their weapons anonymously at the sheriff’s headquarters in San Jose or at the Harding Avenue substation in San Martin, Binder said. 

Wasserman, who represents District 1 on the board of supervisors until the end of this year, nodded to Lee for coming up with the idea to host a gun buyback in South County. The county held a similar event in Milpitas—which is located in District 3 represented by Lee—earlier this year. 

“Safety, and responsibility of gun ownership is important for every community. Help us save lives,” Lee said at the Dec. 2 press conference. 

The county last held a gun buyback in South County in December 2019, at the City of Gilroy’s corporation yard. Authorities collected 493 unwanted firearms from citizens who turned them in for cash at that event.

The statue “Everyone’s Child” stands outside Morgan Hill City Hall as a memorial to young people whose lives have been lost to gun violence. Photo: Michael Moore

Cash for guns

What: Morgan Hill Police, Santa Clara County officials and local law enforcement agencies are conducting a firearms “buyback” event in an effort to take unwanted, unused guns off the streets. 

When: Drive-thru event takes place 9am-2pm Dec. 10. 

Where: Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center, 16500 Condit Road. 

Details: $100 cash for handguns and rifles; $200 for ghost guns and assault weapons. “No questions asked,” according to Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen. First come, first served until funds run out.