HONOLULU (KHON2) — The state’s gun buyback program has been in the works for years.
It started with an Attorney General’s feasibility report in 2017 and a Senate bill that got shot down in 2020.

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Come Oct. 21, the Department of Law Enforcement will host its first gun buyback event.
It’s no questions asked and no ID is required.

“Make sure it’s unloaded, make sure it’s in a box in the trunk of your vehicle,” explained DLE Director Jordan Lowe. “Once the officer or deputy or state narcotics agent takes the firearm from the trunk they would secure it and make it safe, run a gun lock or safety strap through it.”

Turning in handguns or rifles can get an individual a $100 Foodland gift card. Turning in semi-automatic rifles or ghost guns will award an individual a $200 Foodland gift card.

The event will be held in two locations, in Honolulu at the Department of Health’s parking lot and at the Department of Transportation’s Waianae Baseyard. Officials said this is just one of the additional events to come.

A Gun Buyback Program poster details where you can handover in firearms to law enforcements.
A Gun Buyback Program poster details where you can handover firearms to law enforcements.

But will the program be effective? There were mixed reviews in the Attorney General’s 2017 report on gun buyback programs.

According to the report, those in opposition said firearms that are turned in are least likely to be used for criminal activity. But the Honolulu Police Department said in the report it had participated in gun buybacks in the past and successfully collected nearly 1,500 firearms. The guns are then destroyed.

“If you look at the research on the topic of gun buybacks in the United States, there isn’t very much and it’s kind of equivocal,” said Sen. Karl Rhoads, (D) Senate Judiciary Committee Chair. “But I would say it’s a good thing. It’s not going to hurt anything.”

DLE said another event on Oahu is being planned and it hopes to expand to other islands.

Licensed gun dealers, active and retired law enforcement officers are not eligible. The public is welcomed to come and get a free gun lock.

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“If this program can prevent one firearm from being used in a crime or in a violent act, then I think it’s well worth it,” Lowe said.