DENVER (KDVR) — The Broncos trade for Russell Wilson is not the only reason the team is making news Tuesday. The team is also partnering with a gun safety group to host a series of gun buyback events.
“Many of our own players have shared stories of how gun violence has impacted their lives. We are proud to support them and join in the effort to make our communities safer,” Liz Jeralds from the Denver Broncos said.
The Broncos have joined forces with Denver, Aurora and a nonprofit called RAWtools, which is a nonprofit hand-selected by Broncos players to receive a grant through the team’s social justice fund. RAWtools is a gun violence prevention organization that takes guns, disables them and turns them into garden tools, that will be used in community gardens.
“The process we use adds the ability to turn disabled firearms into garden tools but more importantly allows people in communities impacted by gun violence to be a part of that process,” Mike Martin, RAWtools executive director said.
“You may see parents who have lost a child disabling an AR-15. Many of our partners who make this work are connected to community gardens and these tools at these events that we make will be used to till their soil. This is not a simple buyback. This is postvention and prevention. It is a mass effort to collaborate as neighbors to take that which harms our communities and transform it into something that will bring life to our communities,” Martin said.
“Last year there were 82 members of the Denver community that were killed by gunfire. That’s more than 85% of all the homicides in Denver. Also last year, Denver officers recovered more than 2,000 guns from individuals who never should have had them in the first place, including many who were underage. Those are some scary facts, quite honestly a frightening reality,” Denver Police Division Chief Ron Thomas said.
“It is for these reasons Denver is supportive of these types of events to help eliminate the possibility of guns being used in crimes or shootings. Additionally, community members can help make the community safer by locking up guns or storing them properly. We also caution folks about introducing guns into a situation. They can have tragic, fatal, deadly and life-changing implications,” Thomas added.
Jonathan McMillan, Denver director of youth violence prevention, spoke at the news conference.
“I grew up here in Denver, in 80s and 90s when gang and fun violence really started to increase in the metro area. I have lost friends to gun violence. When I began working directly with young people, doing case management and direct gang intervention, I lost way too many clients and young people who were never able to realize their potential because they had way too easy access to way too many firearms,” McMillan said.
“It is obviously not people engaging in criminal activity who are going to come and turn in their guns at a gun buyback program. But what we’re seeing is these guns are being stolen out of people’s cars, they’re being stolen out of people’s homes, and they are being used in subsequent crimes. Anything we can do to help address this problem is better than nothing,” Denver City Councilmember Amanda Sawyer said. “Is it going to stop violence in our cities? No. is it going to help? I hope so. As far as the city is concerned, particularly as far as I’m concerned, one gun we take off the street could potentially save a life.”
“I think any opportunity that we can take to take a gun off the street I think is an opportunity to prevent a crime, particularly with that weapon,” Thomas said.
Each buyback will be a drive-thru model, where participants must remain in their vehicle. Firearms are to be brought in the trunk or back seat of a vehicle and removed by a RAWtools representative to be disabled. Participants need to be sure to check that their firearm is unloaded prior to arriving at a buyback event. Ammunition will not be accepted. Unneeded gun cases and locks, however, will be accepted. Any donated gun locks will be redistributed to the community at a later time.
They are offering $50 to $250, depending on the type of firearm. The last gun buyback in Denver was in 1993, so they aren’t sure how many guns will be turned in this year.
For more information about compensation rates and additional event locations, visit rawtools.org.
2022 Gun Buyback Event Locations
Event Date Location
- Saturday, March 19 Mile High Monument (Empower Field at Mile High)
- Saturday, April 9 Aurora Work Center with Mosaic Church
- Saturday, May 21 Platt Park Church
- Saturday, June 11 * Heritage Christian Center
- Saturday, July 16 TBD
- Saturday, Aug. 20 Living Water Christian Center Church
- Saturday, Sept. 17 TBD
- Saturday, Oct. 15 Colorado Community Church
*(National Gun Buyback Day)