Mayor and Police Chief say gun buyback a success

Published 9:00 am Saturday, October 14, 2023

On Thursday, the LaGrange Police Department collected more than 200 guns during the city’s gun buyback. The city held the event in response to an increase in shooting violence in LaGrange. 

A total of 227 guns were turned over to police during the buyback, which exchanged $150 for the firearms.

Mayor Willie Edmondson called the event a great success due to the number of guns taken off the street. The number of firearms exchanged was a surprise to everyone involved, even the police.

“It’s 200-plus guns that won’t be on the streets,” Edmondson said. “Even though the citizens who brought them in were just trying to sell them and get them out of their house, people break in and steal those guns, so they could have been stolen and on the streets.”

Edmondson said regardless of whether crimes are committed with other guns, these guns will be off the streets and out of homes. Even if the people who turned in the guns would never have used them for crimes, they won;t be available for criminals to steal or kids to accidentally hurt themselves with.

“That’s a positive for me. Even if there had only been one gun bought back, that would be positive because that’s one gun that would not be used against a child, and one is too many,” Edmondson said.

The buyback began at noon on Thursday, but due to the overwhelming response, the event ended around 3:15 p.m. when budgeted funds ran out.

Chief Garrett Fiveash said the overall buyback cost about $35,000.

Police initially were giving out $150 gift cards, but those quickly ran out so they began paying cash for the guns.

Fiveash said some of the guns might not have been worth $150, but it was still worth it to get them off the streets, explaining that if anyone used that same gun to commit a crime it would cost more to pay officers to investigate it.

“I looked at many of the weapons, and there’s some junk in there, sure. Are they still capable of firing a bullet? Yes. So, to me, what price do you put on somebody’s life?”

“If you stick that gun in front of somebody’s face, and you rob the place,  even if we look at it from the bare bones standard of the time it takes us to investigate that crime, we’re going to be looking at way more than $150 in man-hours to investigate,” Fiveash said.

Fiveash was overwhelmed by the response of the buyback. 

“Admittedly we did not plan for such a large turnout. Other events like this that I’ve participated in around the state did not have nearly this many folks. It was good to see so many good folks participate.” Fiveash said.

“I’ve been involved with a couple of these types of buybacks at other places and had nowhere near this response. In all honesty, I figured we would get less than two guns,” he said.

During the buyback, police collected 75 revolvers, 13 breach break guns, 50 shotguns, 50 semi-auto pistols, and 39 rifles for a total of 227 firearms.

Sergeant Brian Brown and Master Detective Adam Blane, two of the department’s firearms instructors, worked with the citizens to physically collect the firearms. LPD will investigate the weapons for any criminal connections, and they will eventually be destroyed.