Monday marked the kickoff for the city of Tacoma’s gun safety week, which encourages residents to safely store firearms to prevent illegal or accidental access.
One element of the initiative, spearheaded by Tacoma’s gang reduction project, is to allow surrender of unwanted firearms. City Councilwoman Victoria Woodards said earlier this year that she hoped people could surrender guns “with no repercussions.”
“We may find a gun that’s been involved in a homicide and not know where it came from,” she said in June.
Last year, Woodards spoke at a rally after the death of 17-year-old Jalon Bea, who was killed in an accidental shooting. Woodards said she felt strongly that families with unwanted guns should have a way to get rid of them. Her goal was to get guns off the street and out of the hands of youths.
Police Chief Donald Ramsdell said anonymous surrender could jeopardize community safety if police receive a gun involved in a crime and have nobody to trace it back to.
Woodards said Monday (Sept. 22) she still wants to keep guns out of the hands of young people.
“That doesn’t mean that police aren’t going to do their job,” she said. Police will still test guns to see if they have been involved with crimes. “… I want for people to be able to give them up.”
Ramsdell said people who want to surrender a firearm should call the Tacoma Police Department’s non-emergency line, 253-798-4721. From there, a police officer can either come to the caller’s location or the caller can go to a police substation to turn in the firearm.
“We’ll take that weapon into safekeeping as a matter of practice. It’s pretty easy,” he said of the surrender process. “We are working to find ways in which we can make it easier for people to turn in weapons and firearms.”
Callers will provide their name, telephone number and address, and the reason for surrender. Once the firearm has been checked to see if it was involved in a crime police will mark it for destruction.
The city’s initiative, called the “ Gun Safe T Education Campaign,” will have a presence during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, and at a booth at a November gun show at the Tacoma Dome with information about how to safely store firearms.
Wednesday. Sept. 24, the city and The Evergreen State are hosting a conversation on gun safety from 5:30-8 p.m. Lyceum Hall, 1210 Sixth Ave.