Crime & Courts

Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |

40 firearms collected during annual Augusta gun buyback event

Saturday, Aug 3, 2013 7:29 PM
Last updated Sunday, Aug 4, 2013 12:06 AM
  • Follow Crime & courts

At about 11:20 a.m. Saturday, people were lined in the hallways of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, shoe boxes in hand.

Back | Next
Dorothy Hawkins (right) turns in a gun as Tonya Sapp (center) and Walter Johnson (left) wait for their turn in line to speak with Niki Watson during Gun Buyback event held by Future Successors at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Dorothy Hawkins (right) turns in a gun as Tonya Sapp (center) and Walter Johnson (left) wait for their turn in line to speak with Niki Watson during Gun Buyback event held by Future Successors at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.

They were waiting their chance to exchange the boxes, which contained unloaded handguns, for prepaid gift cards in the second annual Gun Buyback Day.

Handguns weren’t the only weapons being exchanged.

Some marched into the building with bolt-action rifles or single-shot shotguns hoisted on their shoulders.

Robert Azar, of Augusta, brought both.

“I’m bringing in a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22 (pistol),” he said, motioning to the box in his hand. “I don’t want them in my house anymore. I have two grandchildren and they come over often.”

Azar said the guns were given to him by his son, who wanted them out of his house two years ago. When he heard about the buyback, he loaded up the guns and made the short trip to the church. The money was worth more to him than the guns, he said.

At the front of the line, Peggy Ritter, of Augusta, handed her aunt’s .32-caliber pistol to the event’s coordinator, Niki Watson.

After the gun was cleared and deemed to be in working order, Ritter was given her $75 gift card.

“You just turn the gun in and that’s it,” she said. “I think it’s a great program. It gets a lot of dangerous guns off the street.”

Watson said she raised more than $1,900 in gift cards through her charity, Future Successors. The cards were purchased with the help of local donors and businesses.

By 12:25 p.m., all but two of the gift cards were handed out.

“This was way more successful than I had planned,” Watson said. “The word is getting out there. People are wanting to donate their guns. We should always try as a community to eliminate this problem before it reaches our homes.”

Watson said she flies into Augusta from New York every year at her own expense for the buyback.

The Augusta native tallied the race and gender of every gun owner that handed in a firearm. After no black men turned in guns last year, Watson said four completed the exchange before noon.

She said the no-questions-asked policy might have something to do with the increase.

“They’re scared,” she said. “They think they’ll get arrested, so I tell them that the cops won’t be collecting the guns. I’ll be collecting them.”

Once the guns were cleared by Watson, Richmond County sheriff’s deputies were on hand to zip tie the weapons for security.

For those who still had guns at home, free gun locks were stashed in a nearby box.

Watson said 40 guns were collected during the event – 30 of them handguns – which will be taken to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office for safekeeping. Investigators will run the serial numbers to check for weapons that have been reported missing, and the remaining weapons will be melted down.

She said some guns didn’t have serial numbers.

Deputy Cory Carlyle said he volunteered his time to assist with the event.

“Once the people see the community get involved – like law enforcement – they’ll want to get involved,” he said. “This isn’t the department for us, this is the department for the people. The people have to come out and to put their trust back in us.”

Less than two hours after the event started, Watson’s collections of gift cards ran out. She took out her personal check book and used $300 of her own money.

Delon Smith, of Augusta, was among the last to approach the crowded table in the center of the room. He handed in a gun that he found at his grandmother-in-law’s house after she passed away.

Smith said had already decided how to spend the money.

“This is going to my kids for the tax-free weekend school shopping,” he said.

After looking over the array of guns on the white folding table, Carlyle reiterated the importance of the program.

“All we need to do is save one life,” he said. “That’s all.”

Comments (12) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Common.sense
465
Points
Common.sense 08/03/13 - 09:32 pm
10
0
Misguided ...

The people who use guns with an ill intent will never give them up.

Pops
8353
Points
Pops 08/03/13 - 09:43 pm
4
0
I feel really

good. We are almost safe.....

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 08/03/13 - 10:46 pm
8
1
Oh boy

... almost forty more potential unarmed victims!

Blasphemy
90
Points
Blasphemy 08/04/13 - 01:10 am
5
0
What a crock

of wasted taxpayer dollars. Just more redistribution.

allhans
23626
Points
allhans 08/04/13 - 03:44 am
5
0
And this accomplished

And this accomplished what?
Not the taking of guns that are illegally held, I'll bet.

nocnoc
42489
Points
nocnoc 08/04/13 - 07:55 am
2
0
better numbers this year, if not staged

but still a media stunt that now reduces firearms in honest hands in the area.

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 08/04/13 - 08:47 am
4
1
I t is all about the liberals
Unpublished

I t is all about the liberals making themselves feel good. What a joke. As I have said before liberals might be book smart but most have no common sense.

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 08/04/13 - 09:01 am
0
0
They could have gotten 40+ guns in one house in Barton Village
Unpublished

They could have gotten 40+ guns in one house in Barton Village

gargoyle
16948
Points
gargoyle 08/04/13 - 02:48 pm
1
0
Ms. Watson has one amazingly

Ms. Watson has one amazingly accurate crystal ball. Anyone smell stage lights burning ?

Sweet son
10386
Points
Sweet son 08/04/13 - 03:23 pm
1
0
Taken to the RC Sheriff's Dept for safekeeping?

After every gun was run through the wanted/stolen databases they should have been destroyed immediately! Get out a cutting torch and render them useless.

Don't send them somewhere else to tempt someone to pilfer them!

bdouglas
5000
Points
bdouglas 08/04/13 - 04:09 pm
2
0
"When he heard about the

"When he heard about the buyback, he loaded up the guns and made the short trip to the church."

What a poor choice of words, AC...

bdouglas
5000
Points
bdouglas 08/04/13 - 04:14 pm
1
0
This story is contradicted by

This story is contradicted by a direct quote from Deputy Carlyle in WRDW's story where he says ""We are not running any checks on them. We just want the guns off the street. If they can bring it to us, they don't have to give no name or nothing, or where they got it from. Just bring it to us," said Richmond County Deputy Cory Carlyle."

Travis Highfield
225
Points
Travis Highfield 08/04/13 - 06:56 pm
1
0
To clarify...

bdouglas, Carlyle was talking about the gun owners, not the guns themselves.

saywhatagain
409
Points
saywhatagain 08/04/13 - 10:37 pm
1
0
Fools

"As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness". Proverbs 26:11

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs