County expands gun and ammo turn-ins

Oct 5th, 2022 | By | Category: News

After temporary stints in past years, King County’s voluntary firearm and ammunition return program is now permanent.

The County Council approved a system that allows anyone to take an unwanted gun or ammunition to any Sheriff Department office. The goal is to reduce the amount of weaponry in communities and improve safety.

“Reducing the number of guns in circulation will reduce the number of accidents, injuries and deaths caused by guns,” said Councilman Rod Dembowski, one of six council members who sponsored legislation in July authorizing the program. “And we know from past experience that people welcome the opportunity to turn unwanted guns over to a responsible party for disposal. This program will make that resource available to residents countywide.”

Past efforts, including a gun buyback program coordinated by King County and the City of Seattle in 2013, have been effective, officials said. At the 2013 event, 716 firearms were surrendered to law enforcement.

The number of overall shooting victims in King County was up 70 percent and the number of shooting fatalities was up 54 percent over the four-year average from 2017 through 2020. Statewide, 75 percent of all gun deaths are suicides, according to the Alliance for Gun Responsibility and Renee Hopkins, chief executive officer of the Seattle-based non-profit group.

“Communities in King County, like communities around the country, have experienced a painful spike in gun violence since the start of the pandemic,” said Hopkins. “It will take a comprehensive, public-health response to address this urgent crisis. Offering residents a safe, consistent option for returning unwanted firearms and ammunition is an important part of that approach.”

Nationally, there have been 356 mass shootings in 2022 alone.