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Community leaders say gun buyback program was a huge success

ST. LOUIS - St. Louis community leaders are calling the Gun Buyback program a massive success. Saturday people lined up to exchange their unwanted guns for cash.  Hundreds braved the cold weather for the event as the lined wrapped around the Omega Center in North St. Louis.

Organizers say the goal is to take the weapons off the streets.  People were offered cash in exchange for the firearms.”  Any time you take guns off the streets, it helps us,” said Jimmie Edwards, Public Safety Director.

The good people in this community, that went to their basements or garage and said I don't want this gun to fall in the wrong hands and brought it in today,” said Mayor Lyda Krewson.

“These weapons shows the positive influence that we can have on fighting crime in the city with the help of all the citizens” said Interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole.

The City of St. Louis reached one of the highest numbers for murders since 1995 with over 200 homicides for the year.

The Public Safety Director said the numbers are alarming and the violence must end “Black on Black crime.  There have been 203 murders in the City of St Louis.  The folks that have been taken into custody for murder are all African-Americans.  The people who have been victims of murders are all African-American, except for one.  So, we have an issue that we need to address in the African-American community.  I am a proud African-American male, we need to be outraged when these types of things are happening,” said Edwards.

Authorities paid $ 200 for every assault rifle turned in, $150 dollars for shotguns and rifles and a $100 for handguns.  People had to be in line by 1 p.m. to participate.

The Bar Association of Metropolitan Saint Louis as well as area law firms and lawyers help fund the program.  “We all are responsible for public safety in the City of St Louis.” said Edwards.

Today's totals for the gun buyback program:

303-Hanguns

533-Shotguns/Rifles

6-Assault Weapons

Total cash pay outs:  $111,450