Evanston expands gun buyback program

Patrick Svitek, City Editor

Evanston expanded its gun buyback program to an ongoing basis Monday, offering the service at any time under a new process.

Launched after 19-year-old Justin Murray was shot and killed last fall, the initiative now allows residents to call 311 or the Evanston Police Department’s nonemergency number whenever they want to trade in a firearm rather than on a specific date.

An officer will retrieve the gun and give the resident a $100 voucher that can be cashed in at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. Like the previous version of the program, residents will not face legal action once they hand over the weapon. Police will inventory and destroy the guns they collect.

(Evanston police respond to community pressure to decrease violence, increase communication)

The city came up with the idea after retired Police Chief William Logan told Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl that one of his neighbors missed the first two buybacks but still wanted to exchange a gun.

Police rounded up 45 firearms during the first buyback Dec. 15, 2012, and 28 during the second one June 29, including a stolen handgun from Chicago. Encouraged by the results, Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington suggested making the service “available all the time” after the latest event.

“For people who don’t want to maintain firearms, don’t want to care for them, don’t want to keep them under lock and key, we’ve provided a legal avenue for them to turn their firearms in,” Eddington said at the time. “What we’re preventing is downstream events and tragedies.”

(Stolen handgun among firearms exchanged at second buyback event)

On Monday afternoon, Evanston Police Cmdr. Jay Parrott said the program helps prevent guns from landing in the “wrong hands.”

“It’s one step of an approach to reduce any type of firearm violence,” he said. “It’s not the end-all, be-all, but it is a way to get money for firearms that aren’t being used.”

The Evanston Community Foundation is helping fund the latest version of the program. Northwestern donated $10,000 for the first buyback.

Tanner Maxwell contributed reporting.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PatrickSvitek