Evanston gun buyback program nets 45 firearms

Patrick Svitek, Online Managing Editor

Evanston residents turned in 45 firearms Saturday during a gun buyback program, an initiative that took on heightened significance in light of recent shootings in the city and a national tragedy hundreds of miles away.

The total roundup included 26 handguns, 15 rifles and four shotguns, Evanston Police Cmdr. Jay Parrott said this afternoon.

The weapons’ owners were offered $100 for each returned gun, meaning the city doled out $4,500 on Saturday. It remains unclear how the city will use the remaining funds it had raised for the program, $10,000 of which Northwestern donated.

“I’m sure something constructive is going to be planned,” Parrott said in an email.

The gun buyback came a day after a lone gunman killed 20 children and six adults during a rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The program was also held weeks after its chief organizer, Carolyn Murray, buried her 19-year-old son Justin, who was gunned down Nov. 29 in front of his grandmother’s house on Evanston’s west side.

Justin’s slaying led to two more shootings that killed one man and wounded another this month. Authorities believe these incidents are the latest flare-ups in a bloody, gang-related family feud that may date back to 2005.

At Murray’s funeral, Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl urged community members to participate in the gun buyback program and stop the “unacceptable” violence.

“We have too many guns in this community,” Tisdahl said in a statement Tuesday. “We must work together to get guns off the street through buy-back programs and other means until local jurisdictions have the authority to enact real gun control legislation.”

— Patrick Svitek