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To fight gun violence, Tampa Police will pay you $100 for that firearm

Two no-questions-asked buyback events will take in handguns, shotguns, rifles and assault weapons Saturday in Tampa.
Maya Rabaut, 5, colors during a June 3 event at which Tampa Police Chief Chief Mary O’Connor delivered a proclamation to the Florida Chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, deeming that day National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
Maya Rabaut, 5, colors during a June 3 event at which Tampa Police Chief Chief Mary O’Connor delivered a proclamation to the Florida Chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, deeming that day National Gun Violence Awareness Day. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Jun. 21

In May, a 14-year-old girl named Nilexia Alexander was found shot to death in a Tampa neighborhood. Her killer has not been arrested.

On June 6 in Tampa, two young people were shot in broad daylight in a gas station parking lot, and one of them died. Soon after, a man was shot about two miles away, and he died, too. The incidents weren’t related, police said.

This weekend, Tampa Police are looking to get guns off the street and out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them by handing a $100 bill to anyone willing to turn one in — be it a handgun, shotgun, rifle or assault weapon. And participants won’t be asked their names.

The no-questions-asked gun buybacks will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at two Tampa locations: the parking lot at the southeast corner of Bird Street at Interstate 275, and the West Tampa Community Center at 2103 N Rome Ave.

The buyback will operate as a drive-thru. Participants stay in their cars with the unloaded weapons in the trunk or the rear of the car.

The city hasn’t held a turn-in-a-gun program in seven years. Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor said she was recently approached by a community member at a gun violence discussion in Robles Park.

“She said, ‘We need a gun buy-back,’” O’Connor said.

Of particular concern: Guns in the hands of kids.

“It takes a community to raise our children to understand that there’s responsibility behind picking up a gun,” she said. “There’s kids that pull the trigger, and they’ve made a decision they can never get out of.”

The buyback will be funded by $110,000 contributed by two anonymous donors — “They didn’t want any recognition at all,” O’Connor said — after the Texas school shooting.

So far this year, police have seized 253 guns in East Tampa alone, O’Connor said. They have also investigated reports of dozens of guns stolen from unlocked vehicles.

The Tampa Police buyback in 2015 , which was funded by $50,000 from the Tampa Bay Lightning, paid $50 per weapon and netted more than 500 guns. Participants included people who had unwanted guns in their homes but did not know how to dispose of them.

How many guns will be turned in this year?

“I think even one gun is a success,” she said.

A May gun buyback in Sacramento, Calif., that offered a $50 gas gift card for each gun ran out of cards 45 minutes into the five-hour event.

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