CALUMET CITY | A gun buyback program hosted by police in Calumet City, Chicago Heights and Midlothian on Saturday took 153 firearms off the streets, police said Monday.
Weapons ranging from Saturday night specials to high-powered hunting rifles were turned in to police for $100 each with a limit of $200 per person, said Bridgeview Police Chief Russell Harvey, who is president of the South Suburban Association of Chiefs of Police. The association conducted the gun buyback program in conjunction with the Illinois State Police.
"The guns could have wound up in the wrong hands," Harvey said.
The semiautomatic guns turned in will be tested by the Illinois State Police to see if they were used in any crimes, he said. All the guns eventually will be destroyed.
It was the second gun buyback in the south suburbs this year, with $14,400 remaining from the previous one in June. Harvey said officials started the gun buyback at 8 a.m. Saturday and ran out of money by noon.
Money raised from corporate sponsors and donated by the participating communities was used to purchase the guns. Calumet City 6th Ward Alderman Nick Manousopoulos, who chairs the City Council's Public Safety Committee, donated $2,000 of his discretionary funds to the gun buyback.
"I believe in this program. It's a great way to get guns off the streets and out of kids' hands," he said.
Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush congratulated the police departments and said the city will continue to support the program.
"I think it's awesome, a job well done."
Harvey said in homes where there are guns, suicide is five times more likely and accidental shootings are 22 times more likely to occur, citing data from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Handgun Violence.
Along with the gun buyback, the police departments also accepted outdated and unwanted prescription medicine, which netted 51.6 pounds of medication.
Harvey said prescription medications are the second drug of choice after marijuana for young people.