After the city held two gun buyback days earlier this year, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl announced Monday that Evanston is launching an ongoing gun buyback program through the police department.
Funded by donations to the Evanston Community Foundation, the program will allow residents to turn in a working firearm to police in return for $100 at any time. A police officer will come to the resident’s house to pick up the gun and to present a voucher that can be exchanged for $100 in the city collector’s office at 2100 Ridge Ave.
The idea for the program came from a conversation between the mayor and retired Evanston Police Chief William Logan, whose neighbor wanted to turn in a gun, but had missed the city’s two buyback programs.
“Having a program available to meet the needs of the community in this type of situation seemed to be a viable option,” city spokesperson Erika Storlie said in a press release.
Announcement of the gun buyback program comes a few weeks after the shooting death of Cardereon Preister, 21, who was killed in the 1700 block of Leland Avenue on Tuesday, Sept. 10. Police announced murder charges last week against Evanston resident Matthew Dubose, 18, in connection with Preister’s death.
The city’s two prior gun buyback programs also followed the shooting deaths of young Evanston men, beginning in September 2012 with the murder of Dajae Coleman, 14, who was killed in a case of mistaken identity.
Not long after his death, the city set a date for a gun buyback event, organized by Evanston resident Carolyn Murray, who had been trying to start such a program for years. Her own son, Justin, 19, was shot and killed just weeks before the event, along with fellow Evanston resident Javar Bamberg, 23.
Police collected a total of 45 weapons at that gun buyback. Murray told Patch she would have been happy with one fewer gun on the streets, but said that overall, the results were a step in the right direction.
“We no longer live in Mayberry,” she said at the event. “Our town needs a makeover. Churches, parents, the community, the police—we need to come together.”
Both gun buyback events were amnesty based, meaning no one was arrested, even if they turned in a weapon for which they did not have legal ownership. The ongoing gun buyback program will operate the same way, according to Storlie.
“This program … is aimed at reducing the number of firearms that can potentially cause harm in society,” she said in the release. “Often firearms are not stored properly, which make them prone to getting into the wrong hands through theft or an unforeseen occurrence taking place in a home where the firearm is kept.
Evanston police will inventory firearms collected and ultimately destroy them, according to Storlie. The program will continue as long there is funding, collected through the Evanston Community Foundation.
“There is no instant or single solution to the problem of gun violence, nor any way to undo the losses we have already suffered,” president and CEO Sara Schastok said in a statement on the foundation’s website. “The Foundation has responded to the Mayor’s request for assistance in the hope that our community can decrease residents’ access to guns in moments of anger or fear and that we can demonstrate our shared resolve to prevent violence.”
Evanston’s ongoing gun buyback program begins immediately; residents can participate by calling 311 or the police department at 847-866-5000.
To donate to the program, visit the Evanston Community Foundation's website.