TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioners voted against creating a gun buyback program Wednesday, but will form an anti-gun violence task force in response to the elementary school shooting last month in Newtown, Conn.
The buyback proposal from Commissioner Kevin Beckner was clearly headed to defeat once fellow board member Les Miller spoke. He recounted the 1997 shooting of his son while he was a college student in Tallahassee and said he doubted a gun buyback would have done anything to prevent it.
"I don't think the gun buyback will take guns off the street," Miller said.
Other commissioners suggested such a move would have more symbolic than actual value. Others said it would best be handled by law enforcement, and indeed the Sheriff's Office has a buyback scheduled for next month.
Commissioners left open the possibility that the task force approved Wednesday could see fit to recommend a more formal annual gun buyback program, instead of periodic events by law enforcement.
The task force will consist of law enforcement personnel, mental health and medical workers and representatives of community groups concerned about public safety.
It will be asked to produce suggestions for stemming all forms of gun violence, not just mass shootings. Several commissioners said particular attention should be given to mental health care.
"I don't come today to promote anti-gun legislation," Beckner said. "My intent ... is to focus on gun violence as a public health and safety crisis."