The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office will sponsor a gun buyback program in August where residents throughout the county can return their firearms for gift cards.
The D.A.'s Office announced the buyback program earlier this month, and included San Ramon among the six police departments to take part as collection agencies. The others are Antioch, Brentwood, Concord, Martinez and Richmond; the buyback is open to all Contra Costa residents.
"Recent events like the school shooting in Sandy Hook, Conn. have increased awareness in our nation about the prevalence of guns in our society," D.A. Mark Peterson said. "Contra Costa County is no stranger to gun violence as we have seen many gun-related deaths, especially among our youth."
Peterson said he thought a buyback program would be successful in the county, pointing to a recent similar program in Marin County, where 856 guns were taken off the street. In March, Pittsburg in collected 291 guns in a buyback program and in Santa Clara County, 1,116 guns were taken off the street in a similar program earlier this year.
The buyback would use a "no questions asked" approach, and those who return a handgun would receive a $100 gift card for a working handgun, a $200 gift card for an operable assault weapon and a $50 gift card for a working rifle or shotgun. All the guns collected would be destroyed.
San Ramon police were scheduled to be a collection agency in the buyback program but now, they're not so sure.
"We are not completely bought into this yet," said Police Chief Scott Holder. "It is all preliminary and I am not sure that we will participate."
The county is looking for donations to offset the expected cost of $150,000 to actually but the guns, and so far has received commitments from Chevron, Shell, Tesoro and Phillips 66 totaling $40,000. Peterson said local police departments would bear some of the costs, including staff time, planning and advertising.
That's the sticking point for San Ramon, Holder said.
"I am waiting to see what the council says as to their interest in participation and willingness to kick down funds to make this happen," he said. "The DA is asking cities to assist in funding and with the cuts we have experienced here I do not even buy into kicking funds.."
The buyback is scheduled for Aug. 3 at all five sites -- six, if San Ramon decides to take part.