Guns collected during the city’s December gun buyback. Credit: Gina Castro / Evanston RoundTable

The city’s gun buyback ran out of money on Saturday.

All $8,000 in cash supplied by the Evanston Community Foundation to buy back guns went out the door, while 54 firearms, 44 BB and airsoft guns as well as multiple boxes of ammunition came in the door from 53 residents of Evanston, Skokie and the north side of Chicago. 

Carolyn Murray, an Evanston activist against gun violence, called the event bittersweet.

“I’m happy the turnout was great, but sad we ran out of money,” she said. “We need to fundraise more.”

Last year’s gun buyback collected a total of 53 guns including BB and airsoft guns, said Evanston Police Department Sgt. Chelsea Brown.

Carolyn Murray talking to an officer during the city’s gun buyback event. Credit: Gina Castro

EPD paid participants $125 per gun and $30 for ammunition, BB and airsoft guns. Even after the police ran out of cash, four people turned in their guns at Mount Zion Baptist Church, and received vouchers for repayment they can exchange for cash at the City Clerk’s Office.

BB guns and airsoft guns are included in the program because they are sometimes disguised as real guns to commit crimes, Brown explained.

The city hosts gun buybacks to let community members rid their homes of unwanted weapons with no questions asked. No one is arrested for turning in guns.

After the collection, EPD inventories the weapons, runs the guns’ serial numbers through a trace system and then has the guns destroyed. None of the guns submitted were connected to a crime, according to Brown, but a couple of guns had serial numbers that were rusted out and unidentifiable.

Officer Heidi Bernhardt and Sgt. Scott Sophier kept a record of the number of guns being turned in during the city’s December 2022 gun buyback. Credit: Gina Castro

The city’s gun buyback took place during a sorrowful week. There were two anniversaries of deadly shootings. A year ago on Nov. 28 five teens were shot on the 1900 block of Green Bay Road. Carl Dennison, 17, died at the scene. The next day, Nov. 29, marked the 10-year anniversary of the death of Carolyn Murray’s son Justin

The 10th Annual Interfaith Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue, 1224 Dempster St.

Murray said she thinks gun violence is getting worse in the community. She hears gunshots near her home in the Fifth Ward every night, she said. 

The city’s Youth Advisory Committee held its first Youth Town Hall in November. Many of the students shared their concerns about gun violence at Evanston Township High School. Shortly before that town hall, an ETHS student was arrested for bringing a gun to school.

Many city events have featured passionate discussions about gun violence in the city and among the youth. 

Evanston’s Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America held a town hall last week. Panelists at the town hall explained that Black Evanstonians are most at risk. Evanston’s Black community has a shooting victimization rate more than 30 times higher than white residents, according to Moms Demand Action.

The Evanston Police Department collected 54 firearms, 44 BB and airsoft guns as well as multiple boxes of ammunition from 53 residents of Evanston, Skokie and the north side of Chicago. Credit: Gina Castro

Gina Castro

Gina Castro is a Racial Justice fellow for the Evanston RoundTable. She recently earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where she studied investigative...

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  1. Hmmm,
    25$ for a bb gun on Amazon.
    Will I be branded “pro gun” if I question the thoughtfulness of this program???