The St. Clair County Sheriff’s office is melting down at least a hundred illegal firearms it collected over the weekend at a gun buyback in East St. Louis.
$10,000 in Wal-Mart gift cards were handed out in 39 minutes Saturday in exchange for the guns.
“And there were people that had to be turned away. Now there were some people that just turned over the gun and said just take it, I don’t care if I get anything for it. But it just shows you that we have a flood of these illegal firearms coming into East St. Louis,” said St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly.
“They’re just floating around the streets, people’s homes, not in safe condition. These are certainly not guns that any responsible, lawful gun owner would want to have anything to do with.”
Kelly’s office and the sheriff’s office pooled together the money for the gift cards, combining funds from the state attorney’s juvenile justice council and the sheriff’s asset forfeitures (mainly cash from drug busts).
According to Kelly, firearms are used in the vast majority of violent crimes in East St. Louis.
“Law enforcement from the top down, we struggle with East St. Louis and the violent crime right there, particularly the homicides. It’s an ongoing challenge,” Kelly said. “And that fight that we have, that struggle, that game that we pursue every day is a game of inches. And every inch counts. And every gun off the street, not accessible to a criminal is a good thing.”
Kelly said this is the third time in the past four or five years that his office partnered with the sheriff’s office to hold a gun buyback in East. St. Louis.
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.