RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The yield of a highly discussed, and in the words of the Richmond Police Department, highly successful, gun buyback event in Richmond has been released.

The program, aimed at reducing gun violence in the city, took place on Saturday, Aug. 20, had more than 160 participants and collected 474 guns ranging from pistols to shotguns, according to the police department.

Richmond residents were able to turn in any type of gun, working or not, in exchange for Amazon, Walmart, Kroger or Footlocker gift cards of various amounts:

  • $250 for Assault Weapons
  • $200 for Handguns
  • $150 for Rifles
  • $25 for Inoperable Weapons

Only adults were permitted to participate in the event, and participants were given the opportunity to share their reasoning behind turning in the guns. According to the Richmond Police Department, some of the responses included, “Desire to have a gun-free home,” “Gun violence is a scourge on our community,” and “This was my dad’s gun, and I want it destroyed.”

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced the pilot Gun Buy Back Program during his 2022 State of the City Address in early August, saying, “We have too many guns in the hands of too many individuals who shouldn’t have guns.”

The actual effectiveness of gun buyback programs, though, is contested. Mark Anderson is a Ph.D. in economics and professor at Montana State University whose research focuses on the intersection of crime, public health and microeconomics, and in previous 8News reporting, stated that studies have “found very little evidence to suggest that, on average, these things have been effective at reducing gun-related violence.”

Anderson added that a possible reason for a correlation, or lack thereof, between the effectiveness of the program and crime rates, may be due to the type of person who is actually, voluntarily, turning in the gun.

The Richmond Police Department, though, stated that the results of the buyback program “proved that residents have a desire to change the city’s gun violence narrative.”

The gun buyback is sponsored by the Robby Poblete Foundation, a non-profit that promotes gun buybacks as part of the solution to gun violence. The California-based foundation was founded by Pati Poblete in honor of her son, who was killed by gun violence in 2014.