Fight to get illegal guns off St. Pete streets

11:56 PM, Jan 31, 2013   |    comments
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"We're trying to get illegal guns off the street," said Chief Charles "Chuck" Harmon of Pinellas' push for their Gun Bounty Program.
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  • ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - The St. Petersburg Police Department and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office announced a renewed effort to get illegal guns off the streets.

    "We're trying to get illegal guns off the street," said Chief Charles "Chuck" Harmon.

    The Gun Bounty program was started back in 2009 after eight-year-old Paris Whitehead was shot and killed during a drive-by shooting in St. Pete.

    When the program was launched back in 2009, 106 tips came into Crime Stoppers of Pinellas County, but last year no tips came into the hotline, which has led law enforcement to make another push at the program.

    Starting today, a team of officers will work seven days a week for a month straight - tracking down leads to illegal assault weapons, and the criminals in possession of them.

    According to the details released on Thursday, the Gun Bounty program offers $1,500 for an assault weapon, or $1,000 for any other firearm, for every confidential tip made to Crime Stoppers of Pinellas County. 

    The aunt of Paris Whitehead, the eight-year-old gunned down back in 2009, hopes people in her community will stop the code of silence that often continues the cycle of violence. 

    "It's not about snitching; it's about saving somebody's life so their momma won't have that tear," Shenita Williams told 10 News.

    Law enforcement agencies are not alone in their efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. 

    Ted's Firearms and St. Pete Police Supply just launched a new program that it hopes will close a glaring loophole in gun sales that can land weapons in the wrong hands.

    Currently, it is not illegal to purchase a weapon without a background check from another individual. 

    "If you sell a gun to an individual, just go ahead and meet here in our office and let us do the background check," said Kim Wood.

    Wood said he store is the only one in Pinellas County that officers such a program

    If you would like to report an illegal weapon on the streets, call Crime Stoppers of Pinellas County at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477).

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