PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) — Gun buyback programs may soon be coming to Oakland County. On Thursday, the Board of Commissioners approved $45,000 in funding for local communities to host the events.
With over three quarters of the vote, the program passed with ease. It's a new initiative to combat gun violence.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive response from policing agencies and from community members. It’s been fantastic,” said Oakland County Commissioner Charlie Cavell, who sponsored the resolutions.
Cavell, a Democrat from Ferndale, says a handful of police departments have expressed interest in hosting these buybacks.
“No one has to give up their gun. No one has to sell us their gun. No one has to come to the gun buyback," Cavell said. "But if you find it’s something that you don't want, we would be more than happy to take care of it for you.”
For years, cities like Detroit have hosted these events where people can anonymously exchange unwanted guns for gift cards. Gun safety groups like Be SMART for Kids Michigan plan to be on hand in Oakland County providing educational materials.
“Just reinforcing the message that it’s important to secure your firearms, locked, unloaded with ammunition stored separately,” said Skye Thietten, a volunteer state lead with Be SMART.
Thietten is also a parent in Rochester Hills and feels these programs could help prevent unintentional shootings.
“On a personal note, I think that gun buyback programs are very interesting," Thietten said. "I think they have been very successful in other states.”
However during public comment, some were against funding the program, arguing it’s not all that effective.
"I just don't understand the concept of the gun buyback program," one commentator said. "The people that have respect for their guns and use them in an appropriate manner are not the people we have to be worried about. It’s the people who don't care about the process, don't care about the system.”
With the pilot program approved, cities now have the funding. Those in favor hope at the very least, it encourages responsible gun ownership.
“What this is about is productively starting a conversation about what it means to own a gun, how serious that responsibility is,” Cavell said.
The resolution will now be forwarded on to interested police departments and eventually a report with key data from this pilot program will be sent to the board.