Spartanburg gun buyback: Handguns outnumber shotguns, rifles in returned firearms.

·2 min read

Spartanburg Police reported 165 firearms were turned in during the July 30 gun buyback event.

And while only two of the returned guns were stolen, chief Alonzo Thompson emphasized the total number of firearms collected.

"It's not just stolen guns, but a proper way to dispose of guns," Thompson said. "It was more of a preventative measure than anything else."

At the July 11 City Council meeting when the gun buyback was announced, Thompson said 71 stolen firearms had been reported stolen in Spartanburg this year.

Thompson reiterated the July 30 event was not a "panacea" to gun violence, but the main goal was to put firearms in a position where they could not cause harm through misuse, particularly by children.

"We are in the life-saving business. If it saves one life, it's a win."

Officers with the Spartanburg Police Department take in, tag, and render inoperable, many guns and rifles during a gun buy-back initiative with the City of Spartanburg, Saturday morning, July 30, 2022. Citizens were paid and given gift certificates for firearms turned in during the event.
Officers with the Spartanburg Police Department take in, tag, and render inoperable, many guns and rifles during a gun buy-back initiative with the City of Spartanburg, Saturday morning, July 30, 2022. Citizens were paid and given gift certificates for firearms turned in during the event.

The 165 (previously reported as 164) guns turned in during the buyback break down as follows:

  • Handguns –  115

  • Shotguns – 29

  • Rifles – 14

  • Muzzleloading rifles – 2

  • Stolen handguns – 2

  • Muzzleloading handguns – 2

  • Pellet guns - 1

Two fully functional, homemade/3D printer handguns were recovered and will be destroyed for no charge, along with the rest of the guns, by GunBusters, a company the city regularly uses to destroy guns

Neither of the two stolen handguns was stolen in South Carolina, SPD Major Art Littlejohn said. He also said they were reported stolen in 2009 and 2012, respectively. Littlejohn said the reporting police agencies have been notified of the stolen weapons and those guns will be returned to their owners.

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A total of $17,050 in VISA gift cards was exchanged for the firearms, well above the amount initially allocated for the July 30 event. By 9:30 a.m., the city had already handed out the allotted $10,000 in gift cards for returned firearms. SPD said an officer was then dispatched to purchase more gift cards.

Officers with the Spartanburg Police Department take in, tag, and render inoperable, many guns and rifles during a gun buy-back initiative with the City of Spartanburg, Saturday morning, July 30, 2022. Citizens were paid and given gift certificates for firearms turned in during the event. Police Chief Alonzo Thompson hands receipts to a participant in the program.
Officers with the Spartanburg Police Department take in, tag, and render inoperable, many guns and rifles during a gun buy-back initiative with the City of Spartanburg, Saturday morning, July 30, 2022. Citizens were paid and given gift certificates for firearms turned in during the event. Police Chief Alonzo Thompson hands receipts to a participant in the program.

Individuals were to receive $100 in VISA gift cards for handguns or long guns and $150 for "high-powered weapons." Not all of the gift cards were dispersed to city of Spartanburg or Spartanburg County residents. City councilwoman Meghan Smith said there were no stipulations regarding location due to the anonymity of the event.

"We did not specify you had to be a city resident and we didn't ask any questions," Smith told the Herald-Journal.

At the July 11 City Council meeting, City Manager Chris Story said unallocated funds from the 2021-22 fiscal year would pay for the gun buyback program, which was projected to cost less than $10,000.

Thompson said that the surplus $7,050 for gift cards was paid for by the SPD, but the money will be reimbursed via the unallocated fiscal year funds.

Thompson said the strategy for a planned fall gun buyback will be the same as the summer event.

"We are not anti-Second Amendment, but we just ask people to be responsible gun owners," Thompson said.

Chalmers Rogland, a Wofford College graduate, covers public safety and breaking news for the Herald-Journal. Reach him via email at crogland@shj.com. Find him on Twitter @CRogland. 

This article originally appeared on Herald-Journal: Gun buyback: Spartanburg PD releases gun types, 2 stolen returned