Buyback nets 223 guns

The Hennepin County African American Men's Project took in 223 firearms worth $20,000 during Project Cease Fire, the organization's first gun buy-back program.

&#8220We got some very high-caliber, high-quality, dangerous automatic weapons and revolvers off the street,” said project coordinator Shane Price.

More than 30 nonprofit and faith-based organizations joined plain-clothed police officers Feb. 3 and 4 at two drop-off spots, in North and South Minneapolis.

People who brought in firearms received $50 or $75 MasterCard gift certificates, redeemable for cash or shopping purchases.

The buy-back stock included 26 sawed-off shotguns and rifles, 70 semiautomatic weapons and 125 revolvers, Price said. Participants ranged from young people to senior citizens, with guns coming both from homes and off the streets.

Price said the recent increase in burglaries and robberies in the Twin Cities &#8220don't right away spell murder or assault by a weapon, but there's a close correlation. For the month of January, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault and murder are all up citywide, compared to the same period of 2005 and the three-year norm.

&#8220It's a public health issue now,” Price said. &#8220Every community needs to take a closer look.”

The last buy-back program, run through the county attorney's office in 1992, netted 6,000 guns with a value of $150,000.