|HUD No. 00-98|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||11:30 a.m. Tuesday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||May 9, 2000|
SECRETARY CUOMO ANNOUNCES HUD-FUNDED BUYBACK INITIATIVE EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo announced today that HUD's BuyBack America initiative exceeded expectations, taking more than 10,000 guns off the nation's streets in just a matter of weeks.
In the first wave of HUD-funded gun buybacks, 43 cities have purchased guns under the Department's BuyBack America initiative. A total of 85 cities are participating in the first round of gun buybacks.
Communities are now able to apply for the second round of buyback funding, and an additional 22 communities have sent letters of inquiry stating their interest in applying.
BuyBack America is an unprecedented initiative, designed to reduce the toll of gun violence that claims an estimated 30,000 lives and wounds another 100,000 people each year in the United States.
"Guns create tragedies every day in America, but our successful buybacks, which have greatly exceeded our expectations, have taken away thousands of opportunities for those tragedies," Cuomo said. "This overwhelming response shows that communities across the nation have embraced this initiative."
The Secretary was joined by Toledo, OH, Mayor Carlton Finkbeiner, who brought more than 800 guns of the 1,050 guns recently collected by his city to today's press conference; Atlanta, GA, Mayor Bill Campbell via satellite, whose city collected 838 guns during a gun buyback last month; and Schenectady, NY, Mayor Albert Jurczynski via satellite.
Following today's news conference, the guns from the Toledo buyback initiative will be taken to a foundry in Virginia where they will be destroyed to ensure that they stay off America's streets.
Mayor Finkbeiner said: "The enthusiastic response of Toledo citizens to HUD's gun buyback program demonstrates responsible gun ownership. It is encouraging to see that our citizens are turning guns in, promoting a safe community, and preventing violence. I commend HUD for making these funds available." Finkbeiner also expressed his community's intention to apply for additional funding.
In addition, Mayor Jurczynski said: "Schenectady's recent HUD-funded gun buyback program has been met with great enthusiasm by the general public-funds ran out within days of kicking off the program. In response, Schenectady County is in the process of allocating $20,000 to keep this worthwhile initiative moving forward through our city police department."
Police departments and public housing authorities participating in BuyBack America use funds from HUD's crime-fighting Drug Elimination Grant Program to buy back guns. HUD suggests a buyback price of $50 for each gun. In addition, businesses are encouraged to donate gift certificates for food, toys, and other goods to individuals turning in guns. HUD is providing an additional 43 cents in matching funds for every $1 in HUD Drug Elimination Grant funds that housing authorities set aside for a gun buyback.
The basic premise of the gun buybacks is to give people the opportunity, for a limited period of time, to exchange their guns for something of value with no questions asked. To reduce the availability of guns, all guns purchased with HUD funds are destroyed, unless it is determined that a gun was stolen or is needed for an ongoing law enforcement investigation. Stolen weapons are returned to their lawful owners.
Cuomo also announced that he is recommending that when stolen guns are returned to their lawful owners that the guns are equipped with trigger locks or, where possible, with internal locks installed, to make them safer.
HUD-funded gun buybacks have been conducted in the following cities: ALABAMA -- Foley and Prichard. CALIFORNIA -- San Francisco. CONNECTICUT -- Hartford and Stamford. GEORGIA -- Atlanta, Columbus, Cordele and Savannah. ILLINOIS -- Rockford. KANSAS -- Kansas City. KENTUCKY -- Columbia, Lexington, Louisville, and Princeton. MASSACHUSETTS -- Malden and Springfield. MARYLAND -- Annapolis and Baltimore. MICHIGAN -- Flint. MISSOURI -- Hannibal; NEW JERSEY -- Bayonne, Newark and Paterson. NEW MEXICO -- Las Cruces. NEW YORK -- Albany, Catskill, Plattsburgh, Schenectady, Yonkers and Watervliet; NORTH CAROLINA -- Wilmington; OHIO -- Canton and Toledo. RHODE ISLAND -- Pawtucket; SOUTH CAROLINA -- Beaufort; TENNESSEE -- Memphis. TEXAS -- El Paso, Houston and San Antonio. UTAH -- Provo.
Among the largest gun buybacks were: Lexington, KY -- 1,517 guns. Canton, OH -- 900. Houston, TX -- 779. Baltimore, MD -- 754. Kansas City, KS -- 550. Rockford, IL -- 431. The following cities that have already conducted successful gun buybacks have requested funding to purchase more guns: Atlanta, GA; Honolulu, HI; Lexington, KY; Toledo, OH; and Wilmington, NC.
In addition to removing guns from the community, the buyback initiative is designed to foster cooperation between local communities and law enforcement agencies, as well as to educate people regarding gun safety and responsible gun ownership.
Other parts of the Clinton Administration's gun safety agenda include:
- HUD and the Department of the Treasury signed a historic agreement with Smith & Wesson in March to implement a "code of conduct" that will increase gun safety and improve retail distribution to keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals.
- A $280 million national firearms enforcement initiative that is also part of the President's proposed budget. The initiative would hire 500 new ATF agents and inspectors to target gun criminals, hire more than 1,000 prosecutors at all levels of government, fund new gun tracing and ballistics testing systems to catch more gun criminals, and fund local media campaigns to send a message to criminals on tough gun penalties and a message to all gun owners on the safe handling and storage of firearms.
- A $30 million Community Gun Safety and Violence Reduction Initiative that President Clinton proposed in his Fiscal Year 2001 Budget. The initiative, which would be administered by HUD, would fund computerized mapping of gun violence to help law enforcement agencies better protect the public, education and outreach programs to promote responsible safety measures by gun owners, and innovative community activities to reduce both gun crimes and accidents. If Congress approves funding for the initiative, local governments, law enforcement agencies, public housing authorities, community organizations, and other groups would be eligible to compete for HUD grants to support gun violence reduction activities in the communities the Department serves.
- The passage of common-sense gun safety legislation that has been stalled in a House-Senate Conference Committee for nine months that would close the gun show loophole, require child safety locks for handguns, ban the importation of large-capacity ammunition clips, and bar violent juveniles from owning guns as adults.
The following individuals and organizations have expressed support for the BuyBack America initiative: Senator Paul Sarbanes of Maryland, Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee; Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee and a Member of the VA-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee; Senator Barbara Boxer of California, Member of the Budget Committee; Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island; Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York, whose husband was murdered and whose son was badly wounded in a shooting on the Long Island Rail Road; Handgun Control, Inc.; the National Education Association; Physicians for Social Responsibility; the American Public Health Association; the Educational Fund to End Handgun Violence; the National Association of African Americans in Housing; and officials from the Housing Authority of Baltimore City and the Housing Authority of New Orleans.