King County Oks Creation Of Gun, Ammunition Drop Off Program

SEATTLE (AP) — People in Washington state’s most populous county should soon be able to drop off unwanted guns and ammunition at any sheriff’s office or storefront location, assured of its safe disposal.

The Metropolitan King County Council unanimously approved legislation Tuesday to create a permanent program within its Sheriff’s Office that allows people to voluntarily return firearms and ammunition, The Seattle Times reported.

The legislation asks the county executive to evaluate the feasibility of allowing drop offs and allowing people to request a sheriff’s deputy to pick up an unwanted firearm.

People also could drop off guns at locations in the 10 contract cities where the county sheriff provides police services. And the legislation asks the sheriff to look for partnerships with other cities to expand access for people looking to turnover guns or ammunition.

The measure emerged following mass shootings in May in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.

“Reducing the number of guns in circulation will reduce the number of accidents, injuries and deaths caused by guns,” Councilmember Rod Dembowski, the lead sponsor, said. “And we know from past experience that people welcome the opportunity to turn unwanted guns over to a responsible party for disposal.”

During a 2013 gun buyback program coordinated by King County and the City of Seattle, 716 firearms were surrendered to law enforcement in exchange for gift cards.

“Gun violence is awful, tragic, and — above all else — preventable," Councilmember Girmay Zahilay said. "The ... program is a small but important step in making our communities safer."