Gun buyback promotes gun safety and mental health awareness – Scot Scoop News

Content Warning: This article mentions suicide and contains other content that may provoke some readers.

In order to provide a safe space for gun owners to dispose of their firearms, San Mateo County is organizing a gun buyback event next month.

The redemption event, scheduled for December 11 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1000 Skyway Rd. in San Carlos, strives to get guns off the streets and promote gun safety, as gun owners receive financial compensation for each gun they put back.

The event will accept any firearm, from handgun to shotgun, assault weapons and ghost weapons. It will also be completely anonymous.

Danielle Lacampagne, co-chair of Citizens for a Firearms Buyback in San Mateo County, explained why she created this type of event in 2018. For her, the focus is more on stopping suicides than on the prevention of mass shootings.

“I have been a parent of children who grew up with lockdown drills and watched the news about mass shootings and worried about that. In addition, I am a social worker and I certainly know a lot about the risk of suicide by firearms, ”said Lacampagne. “[In our county], firearm suicides account for about 74% of all firearm deaths. They are all equally tragic, but the prevalence of gun suicides outweighs the prevalence of homicides in our county. “

When Lacampagne first attempted to host this event in 2018, she worked with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department. She explained that her group was in charge of raising money to pay for the guns, while the sheriff’s department took care of everything else.

“[San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos Bolanos said he would] do it all for it, advertise it, run it, send officers, find a place but don’t donate money for guns. He said, “You have to raise $ 75,000,” Lacampagne said.

Instead of raising $ 75,000, Lacampagne raised $ 140,000 and used $ 125,000 of that funding for the three previous buyouts in 2018 and 2019.

According to the data presented in the San Mateo County Supervisory Board meeting on November 16, the three redemptions collected more than 1,000 firearms.

Additionally, the supervisory board recently granted the group funding for additional buyout events, allowing a total of five buyout events through the end of 2023. The first event would be the December 11 event. The plan is that for the next two years there will be a buyout event twice a year, once in the spring and another during the holiday season, focusing on different parts of the county.

Lacampagne noted that a greater number of redemption events would benefit the community, as a stable event would be an additional safety net.

“[It would be] a safety precaution to have it regularly so that people expect [that service] is available to rid your home of something that could be potentially dangerous, ”said Lacampagne.

While a gun buyback event will help reduce the number of guns in the region, some believe governments should take additional steps to help reduce gun violence. Samantha Kim, junior and president of the Students Demand Action Club, which works to raise awareness of gun violence and prevention, proposed additional measures that may coincide with the buyout event.

“I think buyouts, along with other gun violence prevention methods, including red flag laws and universal background checks, can be effective, but it has to be. [part of] a bigger plan, ”Kim said.

Regarding the mental health crisis, Seona Sherman, a senior, noted that while gun buyback was part of the solution, it would also be beneficial to have other education services. in mental health.

“I think any support and any system that can be put in place is beneficial, but that does not remove the problem, because just because you have no more guns does not mean that you cannot do anything. to do, that kind of takes away a method, ”Sherman said.“ I think [another way is by]by creating events or programs that deal directly with mental health and helping to change mentalities and making it clear that this is a problem we can talk about. “

Responding to some of these concerns, Lacampagne highlighted the steps taken at these events to promote gun safety and mental health awareness.

“We’re giving away free weapon trigger locks to people who know [other gun owners], or if they have another weapon at home, ”Lacampagne said. “We distribute suicide prevention brochures with the suicide hotline number because some people tell us they have someone in their house who is suicidal. “

I think anytime you can give information or potentially start a conversation it can help someone feel less alone.

– Danielle Lacampagne

In addition, Sherman described other ways the county could provide mental health support to those in need.

“We need to end this stigma against mental illness and figure out how you can take care of yourself,” Sherman said. “Finding solutions is such a huge thing, and I know it’s idealistic, but I think offering free therapy [would be helpful], but it’s so hard to do with government funding.

While gun buybacks are not the complete solution, Lacampagne noted that events like these help spread awareness and allow people to support their loved ones.

Lacampagne said: “I think any time you can give information, or potentially start a conversation, it can help someone feel less alone.”

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