Petersburg gun buyback postponed after legal questions

Published: Sep. 11, 2013 at 3:56 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2013 at 3:56 AM EDT
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PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - A plan to get dangerous guns off the streets in Petersburg just hit a major road block.

Petersburg planned plan to host a gun buyback this weekend, but it is against the law to offer cash for guns without first getting approval. Organizers are not saying whether they had that approval, but the event has been postponed.

Commercials advertised the Petersburg Police and Mothers Against Violent Crime gun buyback this weekend.

"But the law says before a locality can do this," said NBC 12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin. "They have to pass an ordinance."

NBC12 emailed Petersburg Police and the City Attorney to find out if organizers obtained that required ordinance. We received a statement addressed to Petersburg Police Chief John Dixon reading, "We must postpone Mothers Against Violent Crimes' 1st annual gun buyback due to circumstances beyond our control."

Benjamin says the required ordinances comes after a recent change in state law.

"This law was passed in 2012," said Benjamin. "And it's an example of how difficult it is for not only citizens, but also lawmakers and localities, to keep up with the vast number of bills that are passed."

People turning in weapons would receive a $60.00 gift card for handguns, shotguns and rifles. Those with assault weapons, as classified by the Commonwealth of Virginia, would receive a $100 gift card.

"Gun buy backs are a total waste," said gun shop manager David Hancock. "The guns that are turned in are either broken, cheap guns or aren't even worth what they are giving them."

Hancock also notes guns taken during the buyback must also be offered to a licensed dealer through public auction before just being destroyed.

The commercials have been pulled. Organizers promise they will hold an event like this in the very near future.

"It's a hoop. It's the law," said Benjamin. "Jump through it before you can have the program."

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