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Gun buyback scheduled for Aug. 21 in Roanoke

Gun buyback scheduled for Aug. 21 in Roanoke

Operation Trap Door (copy)

An image of guns seized during an investigation. An upcoming event in Roanoke is encouraging people to exchange guns for grocery gift cards.

Members of the community can turn in guns in exchange for grocery gift cards at an upcoming event.

Called “Groceries Not Guns,” the voluntary gun buyback event is scheduled Aug. 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 401 Gainsboro Road NW, the office of the Roanoke branch of the NAACP.

“We are looking for anyone who might be interested in turning a gun that they are not that excited about having into $250 in groceries,” said Catherine Koebel Stromberg, a volunteer with the Roanoke-based Virginia Harm Reduction Coalition.

The coalition submitted a grant request, written by Koebel Stromberg, which resulted in an award of $4,500 from the Roanoke Gun Violence Prevention Commission. The gun buyback event is being funded with that money and aims to reduce gun violence, conflict and intimidation, Koebel Stromberg said. Co-sponsors include the coalition, city police and the NAACP.

The event will accept handguns and long guns. Grocery gift cards will be provided in the following amounts: $150 for a rifle, pistol or revolver, $250 for a semi-automatic handgun and $50 for any inoperable gun. Only a limited number of gift cards are available, according to Koebel Stromberg, who urged people wishing to participate to arrive early.

Those wishing to surrender guns will have to identify themselves to satisfy state law, but no further information will be required, she said. Guns should be dropped off unloaded and in a box, officials said.

All surrendered guns will be destroyed by police, officials said.

Gun locks will be available free to anyone on request.

“This is about harm reduction and one aspect of harm reduction is safe storage,” Koebel Stromberg said.

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Jeff Sturgeon covers the city of Roanoke, including schools, banking and transportation. Phone: (540) 981-3251. Email: Mail: 201 W. Campbell Ave., Roanoke, VA 24011.

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