SALT LAKE CITY — Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced Salt Lake City will host a gun buyback event next weekend, offering gift cards for people who wish to turn in guns.
The event is in response to mass shootings across the nation and calls for political leaders to do more to curb gun violence. At a news conference at the International Peace Gardens on Friday, the mayor and other community leaders wiped away tears as they talked about the shootings.
"You can’t go to the grocery store, you can’t go to school you can’t go to the hospital, there’s no place you can go and feel safe," said Rev. France Davis, who chairs Salt Lake City's Racial Equity in Policing Commission.
Salt Lake City Council Chair Dan Dugan said more needs to be done than moments of silence and prayers.
"I appreciate those moments of silence, but they don’t do me any good," he said.
Mayor Mendenhall said the Salt Lake City Police Foundation raised money to help implement the gun buyback program, which will take place on Saturday, June 11 from 11a-3p at the Public Safety Building in downtown Salt Lake City. People can voluntarily surrender a firearm and get a $50 gift card in exchange (assault rifles will get a $100 gift card). Police said to ensure the gun is unloaded and if you have a gun lock or a case, please put that firearm in the case or use the gun lock. When you approach the event greeters, they will ask you if the gun is secured, unloaded and where it is located.
"This is a no questions asked, no ID required event," said Salt Lake City Police Capt. Charli Goodman.
Capt. Goodman said often people who wish to get rid of firearms do not know the appropriate way to do it. Last year, the department received more than 40 reports of stolen firearms.
The mayor believed the gun buyback can help in the overall effort to curb gun violence.
"It’s worked in other parts of the country and it’s definitely worth a try," Mayor Mendenhall told FOX 13 News. "We’re able to raise an incredible amount of money in a short amount of time which also shows, I think, the interest and the momentum."
Esther Stowell, who chairs Salt Lake City's Human Rights Commission, said incentives might help.
"Gas prices are high right now. I could use $50 in my pocket," she told FOX 13 News.
Stowell emphasized the event was purely voluntary.
"This measure is not asking people to give up their guns, those that actually do feel they do need it. Rather, it’s focusing on people who don’t need it. I hope that differentiation will be heard," she said.
Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers in the Utah State Legislature said they would be pursuing some gun legislation in the 2023 session.
"The parents of Utah expect their leaders to do something about gun violence. And the children of our state are counting on us to do something, their leaders," Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, said through tears as he spoke at Friday's news conference.
Sen. Kitchen is proposing to raise the legal age to purchase a firearm in Utah from 18 to 21. Other Democratic lawmakers told FOX 13 News they are proposing their own bills. It may be an uphill battle in Utah's Republican-dominated legislature.
"It’s a simple piece of legislation and it will save lives. The aim is to raise the age to purchase a firearm from 18 years to 21 years old," Sen. Kitchen said of his bill. "You can’t buy alcohol and in Utah you cannot buy tobacco until 21. This is reasonable legislation."