Hundreds of guns collected at Dane County gun buyback event

MADISON, Wis. — Dane County authorities collected more than 500 weapons during its inaugural Gift Cards for Guns event over the weekend.

In total, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office collected 577 firearms of various kinds in exchange for $43,380 worth of gas and grocery gift cards.

“We’re very pleased with the results from this effort to interrupt the access to guns in our community. It’s important to remember that we will never know if we have prevented an injury or death. We can’t measure something that did not happen,” Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett said. “But by providing this opportunity for people to safely dispose of their unwanted firearms, we can undoubtedly say that these guns will never be used in a crime, a suicide, a domestic violence incident or an accident.”

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Among the weapons collected were 333 long guns including rifles, shotguns, and 11 assault-style rifles; 95 handguns; 93 pellet/BB/paintball guns; one crossbow pistol; 55 homemade weapons including 3D-printed guns; and 380 pounds of ammunition. A total of 266 cars went through the line during the event.

Dane County Gun Buyback

Some of the weapons the Dane Co. Sheriff’s Office said it collected during its first-ever ‘Gift Cards for Guns’ buyback event. (WISC-TV/Channel 3000)

Barret also said the effort wasn’t just about getting unwanted guns off the street but also raising gun violence awareness and promoting firearm safety and education. He said the effort is focusing on the proactive side of policing, considering their “no questions asked” approach as a way to build community trust.

However, Detective Anthony Hamilton, who’s currently running to replace Barrett as sheriff, said that approach could eliminate leads in open cases and that the buyback altogether was a waste of money.

“He’s trying to do something that perhaps has feel-good connotations — certainly a lot of people like the idea of fewer guns on the street — but it has absolutely zero effect on crime,” Hamilton said.

Still, those on the Dane County Board responsible for approving the buyback’s funding are calling it a success. Supervisor Rick Rose said the effort does a lot to help continue the conversation about gun violence.

“I guarantee on the way to drop off the gun and on the way back, families and friends and friends could engage in conversations about the importance and the metaphor of turning in a gun,” Rose said. “For us, it was the message that we care and we’re doing what we can with a very complex issue.”

The Dane County Board in late July approved $50,000 in funds to pay for gift cards and staff overtime. Community groups and businesses — including MG&E, Tellurian, Robinia Courtyard, and the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County — donated an additional $8,525 in gift cards to put toward the program.

County officials said some people who donated their guns declined the gift cards offered to them, meaning $1,400 in gift cards were available to give to others.

All of the serial numbers for the guns turned in during the event were checked, and none of them were listed as stolen.