LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Lexington’s police department is considering implementing a gun buyback program with the goal of making people feel better and safer.
Police Chief Lawrence Weathers made the remarks Wednesday, speaking at a community forum to address gun violence.
Sharing their solution to the growing gun-violence issue in the city, a community member at the meeting called for a “million-dollar gun buyback program.” It’s an idea that she has pressed leaders to implement for some time.
Research into gun buyback programs shows they don’t successfully reduce crime in cities, Weathers responded. The programs work by allowing cities to directly purchase guns from gun owners, no questions asked, he said.
“The premise behind it is you get guns off the street, well the research shows that the guns that are turned it, aren’t the guns being used on the street.”
Even so, Weathers said they are considering a gun buyback program. After the meeting, LEX 18 asked Weathers why he was considering a program that he says wouldn’t reduce crime.
Weathers explained that there would be other benefits that are harder to measure, such as making people feel safer.
“It makes the community feel better. It makes the community feel closer together, and when you start having that, then you start having communication, and you get people starting to talk to you about things,” Weathers said. “We have to look at other aspects and make decisions based on things that are more helpful to the community and don’t cause harm.”
He doesn’t know when they could make a decision on whether to move forward with the program.
“At least we know that if it’s something we have to do, maybe we have a good foundation to get started on it.”
Lexington police would have to figure out how to overcome logistical challenges like where the money for the program comes from, he said. It can be resource intensive because they have to do checks and figure out how to destroy the guns.
During the forum, organized by One Lexington and Councilmember Fred Brown, community members shared their concerns involving gun violence in the city. While leaders shared possible solutions, which included better recruitment of police, opening community centers, focusing on mental health resources, and getting more kids to play sports.