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Kirkland paid $18K for turned-in guns this summer

Kirkland Police Department has paid out a total of $18, 350 in gift cards in exchange for residents' firearms.

KPD held its second Guns for Gift Cards exchange Wednesday, July 20. It took in 60 firearms from 21 people (two AR/AK style weapons; 34 handguns; 22 rifles/shotguns; two non-functioning guns or pellet guns). Those firearms are now slated for destruction. Added up, they were worth a total of $6,975 in Visa gift cards.

caption: Guns turned into the Kirkland police department during its June 2022 Gift Cards for Guns event. Residents could turn in unneeded firearms in exchange for a gift card.
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Guns turned into the Kirkland police department during its June 2022 Gift Cards for Guns event. Residents could turn in unneeded firearms in exchange for a gift card.
Credit: Kirkland Police Department

At the first event of this kind that Kirkland organized on June 24, a total of 45 residents handed over 91 guns. Kirkland paid out $11,375 in Visa gift cards for that exchange.

At that first Guns for Gift Cards event, Kirkland took in: three AR/AK style weapons; 32 handguns; 47 rifles/shotguns; and nine nonfunctioning guns or pellet guns.

"Since one of the last ‘gun buy-back’ programs in our region was nearly 10 years ago, in 2013 by Seattle police, KPD had no recent data on which to base anticipated community participation, and no bar to compare actual event results to," said said a spokesperson for the Kirkland Police Department. "In light of this, both KPD’s Guns for Gift Cards exchange events in June and in July were deemed successful, bringing in 151 firearms in exchange for $18,350 in gift cards to community members. In fact, these results exceeded KPD’s cautious expectations for community response and participation."

"Though there are critics of gun buyback or exchange programs, KPD believes any firearm relinquished by a resident is one less gun that may be involved in a tragic accident, or a suicide, or to be stolen and later used in a crime of violence."

No date is set for a third such event, but Kirkland is planning for one in September.

The exchanges were held in front of the Kirkland Justice Center. Gift cards were worth between $25 and $250, depending on the type of firearm that was turned in. Non-operation firearms or pellet guns got $25. Bolt-action firearms got $100. Handguns got $200. Rifles got $250.

Residents who turned in their firearms had to prove they were Kirkland residents to receive the gift cards (like showing a utility bill) but otherwise, the exchange was anonymous.

Kirkland's Gift Cards for Guns program has been years in the making and is an extension of the city's suicide prevention.

"After Kirkland voters approved Police Proposition 1 in 2018, which included funding for suicide prevention and firearms safety, KPD in 2022 proposed a gun buy-back program in a continuing effort to reduce gun violence within the community, and to reduce the likelihood of accidental injuries and suicides by firearms," KPD said. "The City Council approved the program in April 2022. This program (now referred to as an ‘exchange’ program) encourages Kirkland community members to voluntarily relinquish ownership of unwanted firearms in exchange for pre-paid gift cards."

Also, since Proposition 1 passed in 2018, Kirkland has produced a services of gun safety videos for social media. It also provides gun safety classes, gun locks and firearm safes.

"It is a combination of these efforts that KPD is hoping to reduce gun-related incidents within the city," KPD said.

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