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Gun buyback organizers want proceeds from auction to fund education

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Anthony King says his mission to help teens reduce gun violence took a hit when Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree put more than 1,400 firearms on the auction block.

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Michael Humphreys holds a gun in the old Richmond County Sheriff's office building.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Michael Humphreys holds a gun in the old Richmond County Sheriff's office building.


But King, a community activist who mentors about 25 teens, doesn’t want Roundtree to halt the auction. Instead, he’d like the proceeds to benefit educational programs on proper gun use, gun dangers and the lasting effects of gun deaths.

Proceeds of the firearms sale, which is needed because the sheriff’s office is running out of room to store seized weapons, will go to the city’s general fund. Roundtree plans to ask the Augusta Commission to redirect the funds to the sheriff’s office.

Roundtree said he has no idea how much the auction will raise, and if he gets the money, he doesn’t know how he will spend it. Gun education could use more funding, but the sheriff’s office has many needs, he said.

“Gun violence is very rampant in our county, especially among our young people,” Roundtree said. “Education has to be brought into the equation.”

Some teens who meet bi-monthly in the Laney-Walker neighborhood as part of King’s mentoring program, called KEYS Academy, helped raise donations for a gun buyback held in August. Organizer Niki Watson said the event gets guns off the streets and save lives.

“No one was stepping up to address the issue,” Watson said.

In two years, the gun buyback event has collected 62 firearms in exchange for gift cards.

The Augusta Housing Authority hosted buybacks at its complexes in 2000 but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development stopped funding the initiative the following year. The effort was ineffective at combating gun violence because lawbreakers rarely surrender their weapons, the department said.

King, who has a gun, said he supports the Second Amendment but Georgia lawmakers did not act in the state’s best interest when they amended law in 2012 and prohibited seized weapons from being destroyed.

Some teens in King’s program were disappointed when they heard about the firearms auction that could potentially counter their efforts to make streets safer, King said. Now, he’s trying to educate the teens on the importance of participating in the political process.

“Richmond County Sheriff’s Office isn’t putting the guns back on the streets. Our lawmakers and senators are the ones putting the guns back on the streets,” King said. “It serves as a wake up call for my young people.”

King and Watson reached out to the sheriff’s office this week to discuss ways to improve gun education and encourage Roundtree to appropriate more money to programs like theirs.

Mostly, the sheriff’s office uses a program called C.H.A.M.P.S. – or Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety – for gun education. C.H.A.M.P.S. replaced the drug abuse prevention program DARE in Richmond County schools this year, Roundtree said.

“Kids these days don’t have a concept of life and death. Firearms can kill people,” Roundtree said. “We try to teach them that nothing can bring that bullet back once you pull the trigger.”

THE BACKSTORY

BACKGROUND: RICHMOND COUNTY SHERIFF RICHARD ROUNDTREE PUT MORE THAN 1,400 FIREARMS ON THE AUCTION BLOCK IN HOPES OF GETTING MORE MONEY FOR POLICE OPERATIONS.

Roundtree said he was running out of room to store seized firearms that total about 5,000. He needed to auction them to free up space for new seized weapons that are acquired daily.

Developments: On Friday, a pre-bid procurement conference and auction viewing was held for federally licensed firearm distribution companies. The guns will be auctioned off as a single lot to the highest bidder.

The law: In 2012, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 350 into law. It mandates that state municipalities and law enforcement agencies return stolen firearms to the lawful owner if able. If no owner can be found, the guns can be auctioned to licensed dealers or retained.

The law, backed by pro-gun groups, changed a previous statute that allowed seized guns to be immediately destroyed.

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oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 10/29/13 - 08:35 pm
4
0
Death
Unpublished

"and the lasting effects of gun deaths" Really? Just how long do you stay dead?

wcr250
71
Points
wcr250 10/29/13 - 09:07 pm
3
0
Buy out

What a bunch of idiots,All this does is encourage more car break ins and burgleries so a fool (usually a democrat) can get some more drugs.
Lord deliver us from do gooders who are stupid

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 10/30/13 - 01:01 pm
2
0
We don't need to implement a

We don't need to implement a new at-risk youth program. Just sell the guns legally and put the money back in the cookie jar for the police dept to use toward accomplishing their purpose. I don't need or want the sheriffs to be involved in educating the youths, they have enough on their plate trying to control adults and last time I checked, ALL the bad guys are not in rehabilitation currently.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 10/30/13 - 01:03 pm
0
0
Then again, if there is

Then again, if there is excess human resources/funding and we're just trying to find ways to keep people busy down there, maybe downsize. Just trying to help.

Common.sense
465
Points
Common.sense 10/30/13 - 01:13 pm
1
0
Anthony King and Niki Watson

Anthony King and Niki Watson aren't that smart. What do they not understand that these are going to LICENSED DEALERS. Meaning someone is going to have to PASS a BACKGROUND CHECK in order to buy the firearms. They aren't being put back in the hands of their wannabe gang bangers on the street. Well unless they commit crimes ...

All they see and care about is the money.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 10/30/13 - 03:17 pm
1
0
@ common

Those details, although accurate, don't sell the agenda that will fund their feel-good program with public money.

jimmymac
42872
Points
jimmymac 10/30/13 - 04:37 pm
0
0
PROGRAMS
Unpublished

All the money wasting programs in the world will not curb gun violence by kids today. Most are too chicken to battle out differences like we did when we were young. They have to shoot someone who looks at them wrong or is selling drugs on their turf.

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