Gun Amnesty: One Piece of Anti-Violence Puzzle

By: Jodi Baker Email
By: Jodi Baker Email

Last year, 124-guns were surrendered to Omaha police during gun amnesty days. They're hoping for a big turnout Saturday, as they embark on their fourth and final gun amnesty 2012.

It takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Firefighters Union Hall, 60th and Grover.

"You can even drive up and you don't even have to get out of the car. We'll get it out of your trunk," said Lieutenant Shayna Ray. "We ask that you try to unload it if possible or let the officers know, and we will unload it for you." No questions will be asked.

So far, during three other events this year, they've collected 89 firearms, plus weapons and ammunition. This latest effort, Ray said, is timed before the holidays so people can get rid of unwanted potential hazards before all those family gatherings.

Bellevue police are also holding a gun amnesty event Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Karay's Cafe, 3512 Samson Way.

While amnesty programs give people a place to safely dispose of weapons, UNO Criminal Justice Professor John Crank said they - alone - are not an effective measure to combat violence. "They don't tend to have a deterrent impact. But that does not tell the whole story, I don't think."

He said he's seen some positive steps taken by police in this community, from patrolling hot spots and keeping a close eye on known offenders to shot spotter technology, which allows officers to pinpoint many shooting scenes quickly.

Ray said they're also working more closely with neighborhood associations. "We're trying to get people more active and get to know their neighbors and work with police to solve problems... from small to big."

They're also working with anti-violence groups such as Omaha 360, Impact One and Enough is Enough. So is professor Crank. He said the goal is to find effective ways to reach young people before they ever fire a gun.

"There's a little bit of spaghetti throwing against the wall on this," he said. "We hope some of it will stick. I'd hate to think about what the violence problem would be if we weren't doing these things."

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