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San Antonio police chief says gun buyback programs don’t work

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – Two San Antonio city council members leading the charge to get a gun buyback program have hit a major roadblock –the police chief isn’t on board.

Chief William McManus was notably absent from a news conference at the Public Safety Headquarters downtown Tuesday morning when council members Jada Andrews-Sullivan and John Courage announced the initiative in response to the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.   Their proposal would have area residents turn in guns and get money or gift cards in return, but McManus says those programs don’t work.

“Gun buybacks, through my experience and the research that I’ve looked at around the country, they don’t work.  I’ve conducted them in (Washington), D.C. and I’ve conducted them in Minneapolis and the numbers just don’t bear them out,” McManus said when questioned outside his office after the news conference.

He said it takes too much manpower and resources, while doing little to curb gun violence.

“When you have a weapon that’s turned over, it’s got to be documented, it’s got to be catalogued, it’s got to be tested to see if it was used in any crimes,” he said.  The chief also doesn’t like the anonymous aspect of the program that allows people to turn in weapons with no questions asked.

“If that gun’s been used in a murder, I’m going to want to talk to that person,” McManus stated.

He says the weapons that are turned in, for the most part, aren’t the guns being used to commit crimes.

“A lot of the guns don’t work. They’re not operable,” said McManus, adding that  somebody who turned  in a gun when he was working in Washington, D.C. said they were going to use the money to buy a better weapon.

During the news conference, Courage told reporters that he had talked to McManus earlier,  and they would meet with him to talk about the gun buyback initiative.   McManus is willing to meet with them, but it doesn’t appear they’ll change his mind.

“I think it’s worth having a follow up conversation with the council people.  Maybe we can come

Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan and Councilman John Courage announce gun buyback initiative/KTSA Photo-Elizabeth Ruiz

up with some other solution, but again, a gun buyback is ineffective,” the chief emphasized.

Courage believes he has enough support on city council to approve the gun buyback program and he hopes the community will get on board.

“We think this is an excellent way to step up and offer support and protection for the people in our community who know that there are just too many guns out there,” said  the Northside councilman.

Andrews-Sullivan says they’re not trying to strip anyone of their second amendment rights.

“I am also a licensed and concealed weapon carrier,” said the Eastside councilwoman.

Andrews-Sullivan talked about handling weapons during her military career, and she shared a story about her own gun being used against her in a domestic violence situation.  She said her husband threatened her and her young son with a gun, but he ultimately committed suicide in her presence.

“If that  gun hadn’t been available, we probably would have still just been fighting, but because weapons were readily available,  it was easier for him to act upon the thoughts that he had,”  said Andrews-Sullivan.  “I can’t say that each and every last one of these guns that are turned in can take crime completely off the street, but I know when it’s not available, it can do the most to save a life.”

McManus says when he conducted the Washington, D.C. gun buyback program , they would explain to critics that if they got just one gun off the streets, that could save one life, but the criticism  continued because the program was too expensive and used too much manpower.

If the city gun buyback proposal is approved, what would be done with all of the guns that are collected?

“We’re looking to take the weapons that we receive, melt them down and create some form of image that we can use to honor those that we have lost to gun violence,” said Andrews-Sullivan.

The San Antonio Housing Authority conducted a similar program several years ago. Andrews-Sullivan says about 400 guns were collected under the gun buyback funded by the Department of Housing and Urban development.

She says her proposal would be funded by SAPD’s Asset Forfeiture Fund, which is money from assets seized in criminal cases.   When KTSA News asked the chief about whether that money could be used to fund a gun buyback initiative, he said that’s a legal question.  McManus added that the program is ineffective and  “spending any money on an  ineffective program is not worthwhile.”

When KTSA News asked the chief if the council can move forward with the project without the support of the San Antonio Police Department, he replied, “I’m not sure how that would work.”

In the meantime, if you have any guns you would like to voluntarily turn in, you can do so at any police substation, but you won’t get any money for them.  The chief says he recently got a call from someone who had several weapons they wanted to turn in, but they didn’t feel comfortable loading them in the car and driving around with them.  The chief sent officers to the home to pick up those weapons.




SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – Police Chief William McManus says gun buyback programs don’t work.   The chief was notably absent from a news conference where council members Jada Andrews-Sullivan and John Courage announced their efforts to have a gun buyback program here in San Antonio as a means of reducing gun violence.

“I think it’s a noble idea, but in reality, they’re ineffective.  They just don’t work, and that’s from my experience in conducting buybacks and from the research that’s out there,” said McManus.

Sullivan and Courage said they plan to meet with the chief, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll get on board.

This is a developing story.   Check back for the latest.


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