Councilmembers in Aurora and Denver on Monday announced a joint gun-buyback program for 2022 that would convert firearms into garden tools and jewelry.
The announcement from Denver Councilmember Amanda Sawyer and her Aurora counterpart, Curtis Gardner, comes in the wake of separate shootings last week near Aurora high schools that left nine teens injured.
The cities are partnering with RAWtools, a Colorado Springs nonprofit, to host drive-thru gun buyback events at houses of worship and other community spaces beginning in March. There are four events planned for Denver and Aurora, with details to be announced in January.
Anyone can show up anonymously with a firearm for destruction. Trained volunteers then destroy the weapons and convert them into garden tools and jewelry.
“As part of a broader community public safety strategy, the goal of our gun buyback program is to reduce the availability of firearms through a voluntary buyback effort, so these weapons are not available to be stolen for use in future violent crimes,” the councilmembers said in a news release. “While we know those participating in criminal activity will not typically turn in their firearms at a buyback event, reducing the number of available guns in our communities works as part of an overall strategy to address gun violence.”
Shootings last week outside Aurora Central High School and Hinkley High School injured nine teens between the ages of 14 and 18, prompting the city’s police chief to plead with parents to check their children for weapons.
Violent crime in Colorado has risen, reaching a 25-year high last year, as state leaders focus on up-front crime prevention measures (such as mental health services, housing and school resources) to stem the tide.
“I am heartbroken over the events of the past few weeks,” Sawyer said in a statement. “Our residents deserve to feel safe in their communities. Our kids deserve to feel safe in their schools. While it will not bring back those we have lost, every gun we can help take off the street represents a potential life, or lives, saved.”
Gardner called the violence an epidemic, hoping that combining resources across the municipalities will help residents in both communities.
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