SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio District 9 Councilman John Courage is requesting help funding a gun buyback program on Nov. 19, which he says will be the city’s first..
In the “voluntary weapons exchange” his council office has taken the lead on creating, people will be able to exchange as many as 20 unloaded weapons for H-E-B gift cards at the Alamodome parking between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Gun owners can get $50 for a non-functioning or home manufactured weapon, $150 for a rifle or shotgun, $200 for a handgun, or $300 for a semi-automatic rifle.
The North Side councilman hopes to raise $250,000 to pay for the event. He has already donated $100,000 of his district’s carry forward funds -- the rolling balance of discretionary funding District 9 gets each year. Mayor Ron Nirenberg has committed $25,000, as well, and Councilwoman Marina Alderete-Gavito, D7, has committed $1,000.
Courage has already been asking organizations to donate to the “Safe Weapons Exchange and Education Transfer” (SWEET) Fund through the San Antonio Area Foundation.
“This is not to say we expect to lower the crime rate by even 1%. But if we, through getting these weapons out of circulation, can save one life, then it’s worth 10 times the investment that all of us are putting into this. And I believe it very well may do even more than that,” Courage said.
Though he has previously called it a “no questions asked” event, that does not appear it will be the case for everyone.
San Antonio police will be taking the weapons during the event, despite SAPD Chief William McManus’s vocal misgivings about gun buybacks, which he shared the last time Courage pushed for such an event in 2019.
McManus said officers will check each firearm’s serial numbers on-site, and will need to talk to anyone who brings in a stolen gun or one with a destroyed serial number. Otherwise, the police chief said, it will be anonymous.
“That’s the compromise we came to,” McManus said. “Either we come to that compromise with SAPD involved, or we don’t come to that compromise with SAPD not involved.
Courage doesn’t expect there to be many people bringing stolen guns or weapons that have been used in a crime.
Instead, he has largely focused on the potential of guns being involved in domestic violence, suicide attempts, being found by children, or simply stolen out of the home.
“If you’re a good law-abiding citizen, just come turn in your guns if you don’t want ‘em. You know, that’s the target audience,” he said.