Opa-locka, Miami Gardens hold gun buyback drives for safer holiday
Erick Johnson | 7/3/2014, 9 a.m.
There were sawed-off shotguns, Uzis and rifles.
Once owned by residents, the weapons became the property of police departments in Opa-locka and Miami Gardens, who held gun buy back drives on Saturday in an effort to a create safe Fourth of July weekend, traditionally a dangerous time for revelers who are injured during celebratory gunshots from owners.
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., police from both cities were on hand to purchase weapons from residents at two churches in the area. They paid $50 to $200 for firearms, regardless of their condition. Residents were encouraged to turn in their weapons by a no questions asked policy.
At the Opa-locka Church on NW 150 St. and 7th Ave., police collected 35 weapons that included .45 pistols, .357 Magnum
handguns and .38 revolvers. The Florida Highway Patrol was on hand to help disarm the weapons. At the end of the day, Opa-locka spent a total $2800 for the firearms.
“I’m very happy with our drive,” said police officer E.A. Crawford, who organized the event. “We had two young men who dropped off some weapons earlier so that was nice.”
Opa-locka has held gun buy back drives since June 2008, Crawford said. The city also hosted a drive during Christmas to reduce the number of violent celebrations during the season.
“We have had very little incidents since they (gun buy backs) started,” Crawford said.
The weapons were even bigger at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Miami Gardens, where residents returned rifles, double-barrel shotguns and Uzis. The transactions pleased Assistant Chief Antonio Brooklen. By the 12 noon, his department collected about 30 firearms. Calder Race Track donated $5,000 to the church to help with the effort Brooklen said.
“If you’re not using these weapons to protect your life, then there’s no reason why these weapons should be used,” Brooklen said.