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Krewson poses gun buyback in an effort to get violent crime down

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio
Next week, residents of St. Louis, St. Louis County and East St. Louis will be able to exchange guns for gift cards. St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson announced the plan Friday.

Updated Dec. 20 at 2:00 p.m. with details of the buyback — St. Louis-area residents who have weapons they want to get rid of can exchange them for cash on Saturday, Dec. 23.

Private groups are financing and coordinating the program. People can turn in guns at the Omega Center, 3900 Goodfellow Blvd., between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Only working firearms can be exchanged for cash.

A spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson said the program is targeted at guns from St. Louis, St. Louis County and East St. Louis, but those running the buyback won't have any way of knowing where a gun comes from. The weapons will be turned over to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, which will check to see if the guns have been stolen or used in a crime.

Original story from December 8:

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson has announced a gun buyback program for the St. Louis region.

She made the announcement on Friday at an event surrounded by the police chief, public safety director, federal and state prosecutors, and members of the clergy. “We are awash in guns,” Krewson said. “So far this year, the police department has taken over 2,000 guns off of the streets. That’s not nearly enough.”

Residents of St. Louis, St. Louis County and East St. Louis will be able to turn in their guns in exchange for gift cards starting next week, Krewson said. The St. Louis Police Foundation and the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis are covering the cost of the program.

A similar buyback program, in 2008, netted about 1,000 weapons. Though there’s little evidence the programs reduce violent crime, Krewson said it still needed to be tried.

“If we get one or two or 10 guns off the street that would have been used in a serious crime, I will consider that a success,” she said.

Jimmie Edwards, the mayor’s public safety director, said the program is targeted at “good people.”

“I’m trying to reach good people that are willing to turn in guns that are perhaps in their homes unlawfully, good people like neighbors that have seen children walking the street with guns. I don’t expect the criminals and crooks to come in here and bring me a gun. I do expect that the good people will tell us where the guns are.”

Nearly 200 people have been killed in St. Louis in 2017, the most since 1995, and another 1,000 have been shot. There have been almost 80 homicides in St. Louis County.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.