Austin Police Department hosts first gun surrender event in two years

After a two-year hiatus, the Austin Police Department (APD) held a gun surrender event on Tuesday. 

"Some people get guns from inheritances, or it’s a gift they didn’t want," said Lt. Karl Haverland with APD. "It just gives them an opportunity to get rid of it." 

But the idea behind a gun surrender event goes further than that.

"Guns that are stolen in Austin are being used to commit crimes in Austin," said Senior Officer Frank Creasey with APD.  

According to APD, 900 to 1,200 guns on average are stolen each year in the Austin area. This year, Austin has already hit 1,200 gun thefts.

"The numbers are definitely trending up," said Lt. Haverland. 

One recent study, by a group called "Everytown for Gun Safety" that analyzed FBI crime data from 2011 to 2020, showed that gun thefts from vehicles, specifically, are increasing nationwide. 

That tracks with what local law enforcement is seeing.

"We have many firearms that are being stolen from vehicles in Austin," said Ofc. Creasey.

APD said four times more guns are stolen from cars than from homes. 

In a May 2022 memo to the city, APD Chief Joseph Chacon noted there’s no empirical evidence that gun buyback or surrender programs are effective when it comes to curbing gun violence. 

However, they still want to offer the opportunity to the community.

"Any weapons that are turned in today, we can guarantee those won’t be used in some type of gun violence in Austin," said Creasey. 

Tuesday’s event was also about growing awareness and educating the public on safe storage. They also provided free gun locks at the event.

Free gun locks can also be picked up from APD locations during the week. To learn more, click here

Austin Public Health’s Office of Violence Prevention is also working on its own program for firearm surrender. In August, OVP was awarded a federal grant that will be used to implement a streamlined firearm surrender protocol to restrict the access domestic violence abusers have to guns.