How much did Hillsborough County gun buy-back cost taxpayers?

8:16 PM, Feb 4, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- The lines started forming more than an hour before the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office gun buy-back program was to start on Saturday. Hundreds of people dropping off more than 2,500 firearms including two rocket launchers and a flute turned into a gun.

Officials believe the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting may have fueled the big response.

"Oh I think it's a fantastic idea, more guns we can get off the streets the safer we'll all be," said one man who turned in a handgun.

"Rather than have them laying around the house, figure get them off the street," added Joshua Anderson, who turned in two guns.

With so many guns turned in, the Sheriff's Office actually ran out of money at each one of the five collection sites on Saturday. So a number of people were given vouchers and told to come back this weekend to collect their cash.

A total of 2,541 firearms were turned in and at $75 each. That's more than $190,000 authorities doled out to get the firearms off the streets.

That's also substantially more than the $60,000 officials budgeted for the gun busy back.

But Captain Chad Chronister says no taxpayer money was used to buy the weapons.

"We received some private donations along with... using our forfeiture and seizure asset fund from drug monies," he said on Monday.

Chronister also says the Sheriff's Office won't resell any of the guns. Instead he says they'll eventually be sent to Jacksonville to be melted down.

Authorities say 12 of the guns turned in were at one time reported as stolen, including one that was reported stolen some 30 years ago. Those guns, Chronister says, will be returned to their rightful owners and if ballistics tests link any of the other weapons to a crime, they will be saved and kept as evidence.

In addition to $75, for each gun turned in, people got a pair of both Rays and Lightning tickets.

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