Hundreds of guns trickled in across Central Florida on Thursday as owners exchanged them for $50 gift cards.
The annual gun buyback events hosted by local law enforcement agencies seek to reduce the number of firearms that could fall into criminals' hands.
While the 802 guns turned in were significantly lower than the all-time high of 2,200 guns set years ago, Central Florida Crimeline Director Barb Bergin said each gun potentially represented a life saved or a crime averted.
"While our numbers may be down this year, this is not a competition," Bergin said. "Our intent is to get unwanted guns and possibly any one of these guns could have ended up on a school campus."
At Winter Park's Rachel D. Murrah Civic Center, officers collected 44 firearms. Those included a .22-caliber model of the AR-15 assault rifle, old revolvers and some semi-automatic pistols. Lt. Pam Marcum, the police department's spokesperson, said several guns were brought in by widows of men who had kept them at home. Others gave no reason while officers removed the guns from cars and checked to make sure they were unloaded.
In Osceola County, deputies collected 62 firearms including 100-year-old revolvers, rusted shotguns and a .35 caliber Remington pump-action rifle. Orange County collected 240 firearms; Volusia County collected 81; Kissimmee collected 59; Orlando collected 15.
Each year, oddities and some valuable firearms are handed over. But two Volusia County men in a pickup went home empty handed after showing up with a pipe bomb.
"Our bomb squad was dispatched to the scene…(and) disrupted the pipe bomb with a water cannon," said sheriff's office spokesperson Gary Davidson. "It does appear that the pipe bomb was viable and potentially could have exploded had the fuse been lit. The men with the pipe bomb weren't given a gift card."
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