Dane Co. Sheriff to host gun buyback, faces criticism from political opponent

MADISON, Wis. – The Dane County Sheriff’s Office is hosting its first-ever gun buyback back program to get unwanted guns out of the community, but the initiative is facing some criticism.

On Saturday, officers will be on hand at the Alliant Energy Center for a drive-through event where people will be able to trade firearms for gift cards good for gas and groceries, no questions asked.

RELATED: Dane County gives details on ‘Gift Cards for Guns’ buyback event

Detective Anthony Hamilton, who is currently campaigning to be Dane County’s next sheriff, has been critical of the program. He said the money used to pay for it, $50,000 in county funds, would be better spent elsewhere.

“The guns that are going to get turned in at this gun buyback program are not the people that are shooting across parks at each other,” Hamilton said. “They’re the people that simply don’t know what to do with their guns or maybe the rusty .22 that’s been sitting in a barn for 40 years that nobody wants anymore.”

He said the county should instead be investing in additional roundups arresting those with warrants and searching for stolen vehicles. He also said officers routinely find guns in recovered cars and believes that would be a more effective way to reduce gun violence.

RELATED: Dane County Board approves funding for gun buyback program

In response, Sheriff Kalvin Barrett said while those round-ups have worked, they’re just one part of the puzzle and so is the buyback. Barrett also said as a way to make the program more effective, the sheriff’s office has been involved in community outreach to target high-risk communities.

“It starts with trust, and a lot of times that trust doesn’t happen on the first go around. When we say no questions asked, that may take a time or two for those guns that we really want,” he said. “We’re willing to take that risk and we’re willing to invest in that.”

Barrett also said the focus is not only on gun owners but rather the accessibility of firearms that often put people’s lives at risk and mobilizing the community through gun violence awareness and firearm safety education.

The buyback will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Depending on the weapon gift cards will range from $250 to $10.

People turning in guns should either leave them in their car trucks or put them in a case, and all guns traded in must be fully functional.