RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — One of Richmond’s many efforts to stop gun violence across the city is coming into focus.
City council members were introduced to legislation Monday that would advance the mayor’s proposal to launch a Gun Buyback program.
The legislation creates a partnership with the Robby Poblete Foundation — a California-based nonprofit organization — to assist the city in implementing its first Gun Buyback event.
Mayor Levar Stoney announced his proposal for a Gun Buyback program in February. The program, which involves the Richmond Police Department, would offer a reward to people who voluntarily turn in their guns.
$500,000 in federal COVID relief funds from the American Rescue Plan was set aside for the gun violence prevention program.
Mayor Stoney told 8News Tuesday that he’s optimistic this proposal would curb gun violence in the city. “We know that weapons of war, firearms are inundating communities like Richmond all across the country. We see it in cul-de-sacs of suburbs, we see it in urban streets and we see it in rural areas like Uvalde, Texas” he said.
He added, “I’m proud of the proposal that we’ve put forth to the city council and I’m glad that city council members have joined me in this approach as well.”
In 2021, officials confiscated 1,000 guns — 547 of them were stolen. With this Gun Buyback program, Stoney said the city could take back even more.
“The less guns that are in the hands of those who want to hurt individuals, the better, and that’s what this program is all about,” he said.
Charles Willis, community activist and executive director of United Communities Against Crime, said this program could be a game changer.
“Our young folks, they just have no sense of care for life and become reckless,” he said. “There’s a call to prayer and a call to action.”
Willis met with three families impacted by gun violence Tuesday afternoon.
He said the focus of the program — once it’s established — should be on the type of firearms that people possess.
“The Gun Buyback program in Richmond is going to do a tremendous good. However, I would ask that the city council and the mayor and the police department take a close look at buying back illegal guns. That’s what I support,” he said.
The city said details are limited on what the program will look like and when it will launch.
The city council will hold a public hearing on June 13, 2022.
Richmond police did not respond to 8News’ request for how many guns were confiscated or stolen this year.