Reacting to the New Year's Eve shooting in Old Sacramento, city officials are now talking about creating a gun buyback program similar to those that have removed thousands of weapons from the streets of other cities.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson suggested the idea at a City Council meeting Thursday night as officials discussed the response to the shootout, which was sparked by a barroom confrontation that left two people dead.
"We all want to figure out what we can do collectively to be more proactive," the mayor said. "One of the things I'd love for us to explore is certainly the gun buyback program, something other cities have done that had a lot of success."
Sacramento police spokesman Officer Doug Morse said his department is exploring how to start up such a program, and that others conducted nationwide have helped remove many weapons from the streets.
Morse noted that anyone who has a weapon they want to get rid of can turn it in to the police property section at 555 Sequoia Pacific Blvd., but that the department is looking into a formal buyback program.
Los Angeles officials have sponsored a regular buyback program, moving it up to last month from Mother's Day following the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. The result: more than 2,000 weapons, including two nonfunctional rocket launchers, were handed over in exchange for supermarket gift cards.
Similar efforts last month in San Francisco and Oakland resulted in hundreds of guns being handed over in exchange for cash payments.
In Sacramento, bounty hunter Leonard Padilla sponsored a buyback in November that resulted in about 30 weapons, including a sawed-off shotgun, being turned in to authorities in exchange for coupons for holiday turkeys, Padilla said.
"If you keep picking away at this thing you're going to get some guns off the street," Padilla said, adding that he helped sponsor a gun buyback program Sacramento police used in the mid-1990s.
That involved handing out Sacramento Kings tickets in exchange for weapons. More than 100 were turned in to police and later welded together and presented to Padilla as a Christmas gift.
The buybacks are part of a nationwide reflection on the effects of gun violence following the slaughter at the school in Newtown and other violent incidents.
Candlelight vigils against gun violence are planned in cities nationwide next Tuesday, the second anniversary of the Tucson massacre that wounded then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
A Sacramento vigil is planned that day from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the front steps of St. John's Lutheran Church at 1701 L St.
Johnson's buyback suggestion came as council members discussed possible responses to the Monday night shooting, which resulted in thousands of people being evacuated from Old Sacramento and the cancellation of a planned fireworks show.
Johnson noted that similar events have been held successfully without incident for years.
"This was an isolated event," he said. "This was something over the last 13 years that had not happened previously."
City officials already have plans to install video cameras in Old Sacramento, a popular tourist attraction all year long.
The mayor and council members praised the rapid police response to the shooting, which included officers on horseback racing to the scene with guns drawn. But they said police need to improve the manner in which city officials are notified of such events.
"I did ask that all of you be notified soon after the incident occurred because it, of course, had citywide importance," City Manager John Shirey said. "Unfortunately, it took too long to do that.
"But the chief and I have talked and we are going to improve our systems and protocols for notifications in the future."
Acting Police Chief Dan Schiele, who was appointed to the post one week before the shooting, told the council that officers responded to the shooting "admirably" but that the notification system to alert city officials "failed that night."
"It's not representative of what we wanted it to be," Schiele said.