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Denver, Aurora councilmembers to launch joint community gun buyback program

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Posted at 9:34 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-07 23:34:20-05

DENVER — Denver and Aurora councilmembers will announce the launch of a joint community gun buyback program during a press conference Tuesday.

Denver District 5 Councilmember Amanda Sawyer and Aurora At-Large Councilmember Curtis Gardner have partnered with RAWtools, a Colorado Springs-based non-profit that works with municipalities and faith-based community partners, to host drive-through gun buyback events.

The firearms will be collected anonymously through several drive-thru events, destroyed to ATF standards by trained volunteers then converted into garden tools and jewelry. Ammunition will not be accepted, but unwanted gun cases and locks will be. Any donated gun locks will be redistributed to the community in the future, according to organizers.

The program was announced in November following two high school shootings in Aurora. The goal of the program is to reduce local gun violence, according to Sawyer and Gardner.

However, national data shows gun buyback programs are not effective in curbing violence.

A report released earlier this year by the National Bureau of Economic Research found no evidence that these programs reduce gun crime or lower the homicide or suicide rate in the nation.

“Literature on gun surrender programs is 100% con in that they do no good at all, and in fact, the more recent research indicates they’re dangerous in the short term,” said David Kopel, an adjunct constitutional law professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Colorado’s laws around gun buybacks are also complicated ever since a background check law passed in 2013, which made it illegal for a person who is not a licensed gun dealer to receive a firearm from someone else.

“It would be completely illegal for a church or some community group to set up a program for people to give their guns to someone of the church,” Kopel said.

As a result, many areas around the state have not hosted a buyback program in years.

RAWtools says they have federal approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and state approval.

On Tuesday, Sawyer and Gardner will be joined by members of the Aurora and Denver police departments, representatives from youth violence prevention programs, the founder of RAWtools and a representative from the Denver broncos for a press conference. It is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. at Empower Field at Mile High.