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Flagler Sheriff Wants Your Gun in Exchange for a $50 Gift Card; Opponents Frown

| July 31, 2012

Couch potatoes. (Dagny Gromer)

Last Updated: Wednesday, 2:07 p.m.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office will hold the county’s first gun buy back on Aug. 11, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Town Center.

“This is a no questions asked–amnesty opportunity for anyone to turn in unwanted, operational firearms,” Fleming said.

Individuals will receive a $50 gift card for each firearm turned in, up to a maximum of three. Additional guns will be accepted, but gift cards will be limited to three, while supplies last. Other weapons, such as knives, swords, brass knuckles, etc., will also be accepted.

The program is being funded through a $7,000 crime prevention grant award by the Flagler County Commission. Businesses wishing to donate gift cards should contact Capt. Lynne Catoggio at (386) 586-4805.

Those wishing to turn in their guns should drive to the north side of Central Park at Town Center. A drive-through station will be set up and deputies will come to the vehicles. Guns should be unloaded and stored in the trunk area or bed area of trucks. Participants must not leave their vehicles.

For those who wish to discard guns but are unable to drive to the site, deputies will come to your home during this period and pick up the weapons. Arrangements may be made by calling (386) 313-4911.

The proposal drew skeptical responses from Fleming’s opponents in the sheriff’s race. Fleming is running for re-election in the Aug. 14 primary.

“Gun buy-back programs may be popular in communities and are designed to give the impression that law enforcement is doing something about illegal guns,” John Pollinger, one of Fleming’s two Republican opponents, said. “No one with the intent on committing a crime while armed is going to surrender that firearm in exchange for a gift card. In addition, buy-pack programs such as these encourage citizens to otherwise keep firearms they no longer want or need in the hopes in the future, government is going to provide some type of compensation or reward in exchange. I would rather see the $7,000.00 in taxpayer money used for educational and diversionary programs for the youth in Flagler County to discourage them from obtaining any illegal gun in the first place.”

Ray Stevens, also one of Flaming’s Republican opponents, had similar reservations. “At first glance the gun buy-back concept appears to be sound,” Stevens said, “but upon closer examination, it does little to take guns out of the hands of criminals. Based on my experience a vast majority of the firearms that are turned in are inoperable. Citizens who legally posses functional firearms, and want to dispose of them, can go to a gun store or pawn shop and quite probably receive more than fifty dollars for the weapon. The potential exists that persons who posses or have obtained these firearms illegally will turn them in to make a fast fifty dollars and then go out and steal another one. So, this flurry of activity by the sheriff every three and a half years must be seen for what it is, an attempt to gain votes. I believe the money could be put to better use, such as the PAL program. Just my opinion.” (PAL is the Police Athletic League.)

To Karl Tozzi, one of two Democrats running against Fleming, the program is the program is “an excellent way of getting weapons off the street.”

“The only problem I see,” Tozzi said, “is that we should not cap the quantity of guns per person nor should we have a cap on the number of funds we are allocated to take the weapons of the street. If you are going to start a program like this for the first time in our county, we must have adequate funds to assure that the program works and gets all the guns possible in one fell swoop. We certainly don’t want people walking away with unsold guns in there trunks because we ran out of gift certificates.”

All four of Fleming’s opponents were given the chance to address the buy-back program.

“This is the first time we have offered a gun buy back in Flagler County and I think it will prove to be a valuable service to our residents,” Fleming said. “The more guns we take out of the community, the less opportunity there is that one of those may be used in a crime I encourage folks to take advantage of this opportunity.”

As an additional service, Sheriff Fleming has ordered a prescription drug take back during this event. Gift cards will not be distributed, but residents may drive through the appropriate station where unwanted prescription drugs will be accepted. Needles in Sharps Containers will also be accepted as part of this operation.

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36 Responses for “Flagler Sheriff Wants Your Gun in Exchange for a $50 Gift Card; Opponents Frown”

  1. Robert Lewis says:

    How convenient, right before the primary. 7 1/2 years of nothing, and right before the primary election this. Nice staged event.

  2. Frustrated says:

    This is ridiculous… The county has refused several times over to give its employees any kind of raise but they can give away money for guns and weapons with no questions asked. So we are going to give out a “reward” for most likely stolen weapons with no questions asked. This is not going to make the community any safer. It will just open more doors for future crime because no one will have weapons to defend them self or their family.

    • Mirabelle says:

      This grant can only be used for crime prevention efforts…not raises. $7000 shared among 300 FCSO employees is less than .90 cents per pay period.

  3. Safety guy says:

    $50 is not going to get all the guns off the streets. I cannot imagine what gun would cost just $50. Perhaps a parent that finds a gun in a child’s room or that wife with the abusive husband scared her husband will shoot her may turn in expensive guns. That is or would be my hope for this operation.

    Please explain to us all how, “The program is being funded through a $7,000 crime prevention grant award by the Flagler County Commission. Businesses wishing to donate gift cards should contact Capt. Lynne Catoggio at (386) 586-4805.” this money would be, could be used to give its employees any kind of raise.

    This statement: “This is not going to make the community any safer. It will just open more doors for future crime because no one will have weapons to defend them self or their family” is just plain dumb. Does the writer actually believe that a responsible gum owner would turn in their $800 defense pistol or their $1,500 rifle for $50?

    It is statements like these that are politically motivated to place a candidate in an unpleasant light. If this program gets one firearm, extra drugs, or used needles off the street that at this moment are in the hands of a “Nutcase” as we call them after the fact, then good for them. I hope they get a lot of them. I do not think a women living in fear of an abusive husband or gang member child needs to have a gun in their home. I would expect they could care less about the money or the politics of any candidate. Answer the questions about how we can help stop crime and stop tearing candidates apart on open public forum polls like this one.

  4. Ludicrous says:

    These cops are so two-faced in this county I wouldn’t be surprised if they just decided to arrest all the individuals who turn in a stolen or illegal firearm. Citizens beware the FCSO does not keep its word.

  5. question says:

    Gun buy-back: every gun out of circulation: helps.

    Even better…you’ll NEVER believe where one of our best hopes to re-civilize our country may come from: – –
    scroll down to …’play video’…

    LAST person on earth I would have thought of! First Chief Justice Roberts now…..

    Hope springs eternal :)

    • Frustrated says:

      @ question- Did you even read the above article??? This has nothing to do with gun control or the Second Amendment. This is a political move that is a giant waste of money and time. A gun out being “bought back” is not out of circulation… it is simply owned by a different person. It doesn’t magically disappear.

      The county should be putting this money towards one of the multiple programs to better our community. Our county is slowing going down the drain. Wasting money on a program like this is not helping our “Greater Good.”

  6. Outsider says:

    Well, until they get the price up ABOVE what I’ve paid for mine, I won’t even consider it.

  7. Chuck says:

    Yeah ok. Sell my guns worth hundreds of dollars for a $50 gift card.

  8. Geezer says:

    I’m glad that it’s clear that only operational firearms will be bought by the Sheriff.
    Usually that’s what’s turned in – rusty and unsafe guns – guns that are paperweights…..

    Maybe I’m premature here, but I don’t think that the turnout will be substantial.
    Exactly who is going to turn in a good weapon for fifty bucks?

    POLITICAL PLOY. Robert Lewis is right.
    $7000 grant? Donate that modest sum to the free clinic in Bunnell or the Humane Society,
    where it may actually do some good.

  9. Seaturtle33 says:

    $50??? Yeah they might get my super soaker for that. The $7000 could be much bettr spent.

  10. question says:

    @ Frustrated
    Law enforcement doing a gun buy-back NOTHING to do with gun control ?

    Believe a gun that used to be in your home and now is GONE from your home, is now one less gun that is going to be available for a myriad of unwanted gun accidents, suicide or violence. That gun has now been ‘controlled’, removed, nada, zip potential trouble to anyone any longer.

    NRA’ers — gotta be in a whole different universe.

  11. DMoore says:

    Am I the only one who noticed the $1700 Benelli sitting on the couch… “Wait, you mean I can get a $50 gift card for this.. SOLD.”

  12. Clint says:

    Germany 1933 started this same program. Look what happened !

  13. Anon says:

    Who oversees what happens to these guns, bought without questions asked, or probably without any records or logs of how many guns or prescription drugs are “taken back”? What exactly happens to these guns and prescription drugs once they are turned in? I’d think the DEA and a licensed pharmacist should be present to account for these items. Otherwise, how does anyone know for sure? Blind trust?

  14. Clint says:

    Maybe some smart entrepreneur will set up a check point two blocks away from the sheriff dept. check point and give out free Chic-a-Fil dinners and 100 dollars for all the 1st class firearms those Jeffro’s and Bwain’s will be bringing in…..Hey you snooze, you lose !! Maybe you should not have insulted them with a $50 merchant card , Sheriff of Nottingham Fleming.

    See ya around

  15. Insider says:

    What a political move, along with the pill operation with several uppers who dont ever see the light of day unless its to take a smoke break are all in the paper…..hmmmmm look what i have done says teflon don, you say look what you have done to save tax payers money but i believe there is 8,500 dollars missing to a person who has alot of commendations that were given to him by his very good friends, certain admin that are his direct supervisors which for some reasons didnt question ALOT of bogus OT, Hey don good job saving money, if anyone votes for this guy then go talk to a deputy while off duty and see why you should’t hence why the police union isnt backing him, we are tired of his horrible leadership along with his continuing bully style supervision from several of his admin. From the inside please dont vote this fool back into office the deputy’s are hurting because of this guy.

  16. Sally says:

    People, unwanted guns, since everyone in flagler is a genius at nay saying, let us see how the math goes, how many guns do you need to protect yourself? HOUSES GET ROBBED BY THE BAD GUYS, BAD GUYS GET THE GUNS. And as far as the 1933 comment well ya I can so see the whole FCSO being led by a Vietnam Vet/ Highest of ranks for what is it 38 years in law enforcement building a camp. BAHAHAHAHA.

  17. Art Blakely says:

    What self respecting thief, burglar or mobster will turn in his “gun” for $50.

    Is this the level of intelligence of the chief of police????

    What a political scam and insult to every citizen.

  18. FRTK says:

    The radio show “Monsters in the Morning” on 104.1 has been doing this for 13 years. It is called Kicks for Guns. This will be Flagler County’s first time. The system does work! The guns are removed from unwanted gun owners so they do not end up getting stolen, or accidently shoot someone. There are many older people that have these guns in their house from there deceased spouse. Maybe their grand kids get curious because they don’t have them at home. If the gun is just stored away not used and not secured, why not? The guns are melted down and destroyed.
    If you don’t want to bring your gun then don’t.

  19. Dean Weingarten says:

    Defraud poor widows of their heirloom rifles and shotguns for a pittance, then further the stupidity by destroying this valuable property rather than returning it to regulated commerce.

    All this does is increase the demand for new guns, making the gun manufacturers very happy.

    It is political theater designed for one purpose: to delegitimize the armed citizen. Taxpayer funds should not be used to delegitimize Constitutional rights.

  20. Gun owner says:

    Seriously are Flagler residents stupid. They are not buying back the legal weapons you have in your home for protection. This program is for the “illegal” weapons. Sometimes I don’t think anyone in Flagler can read. For the person that said to use the money for a raise for the deputies. really? Come on $7000 divided by how many deputies equals.?


      GREAT IDEA !! Thank you FCSO for always being inovated and doing what needs to be done. I have seen this program in many counties and states and IT WORKS! Keep up the good work!

    • Meh says:

      You expect people to turn in illegal firearms (and we’re not even sure how they originally got them) and expect to be satisfied with $50? Rofl

      I’ll sit behind the sheriff and offer double…

    • Dean Weingarten says:

      What are the “illegal weapons” to which you refer? “Unwanted, operational weapons” are unlikely to be illegal. Nearly all of the guns turned in at this taxpayer funded political theater are perfectly legal.

      Scare Grandma into turning in her husbands $200 hunting shotgun for a pittance.

      Take advantage of old widows in order to make political points.

      These people should be ashamed of themselves.

  21. Gun owner says:

    Oh and $7000 divided by 50 equals 140 weapons off the street in Flagler county.

  22. John says:

    SUCH A WASTE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS !! $7000 isn’t a huge sum in the “Big Picture”, but the fact that it’s $7000 WASTED on another stupid government program that accomplishes absolutely nothing that’s the issue. Just exactly what’s accomplished ? Are the criminals going to rush in and turn in their guns for $50 ? No rational human believes that. The practice of wasting taxpayer dollars has to stop. This is $7000 of taxpayer dollars being senselessly thrown away. I certainly hope there is some kind of outside entity auditing the serial numbers and exactly where each weapon ended up. In addition I would hope the guns that were stolen were returned to their rightful owners.

  23. FRTK says:

    All serial numbers are recorded and checked. Stolen weapons are returned to the owners. All others are destroyed. Guns used in crime may be held on as evidence (I think). The program is designed to get unused or unwanted weapons from making into the wrong hands.
    Not all are educated in gun safety, especially the criminals!
    If this saves one life then it was worth the $7,000.00.


      1) Jersey City gun buy-back program expected to takes hundreds of firearms off the streets
      2) More than 600 weapons were turned in during the first hour of a gun buyback program held over the weekend at six locations in Los Angeles.
      3) City buy-back program takes 5,500 guns, replicas off streets
      BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter June 23, 2012 6:46PM
      4) Gun Buyback LA 2012: 1,650 Guns Turned In To LAPD For Grocery Store Gift Cards (VIDEO)
      5)Gun buyback programs were held in two major U.S. cities this weekend, taking some 850 firearms off the streets. But the big question is, do these programs work?

      In the New York City borough of Staten Island, more than 150 weapons were collected, most of them handguns, according to People were given $200 for a working handgun, $20 for a rifle or shotgun.

      Part of the offer was that people could turn in their guns with no questions asked.

      “We asked nobody where they obtained it from. We asked nobody’s name,” said Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan.

      In Cleveland and at four suburban locations, 706 guns were turned in. Police would have gotten more except they ran out of the $100 Target gift cards they were giving in exchange for the weapons.

      Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath is a big believer in such programs, saying they help curb crime and save lives.


  24. Ray Thorne says:

    I hate election time. Those who will fault these types of things during this time are the same ones who would back the idea any other time. If they get a couple guns off the street and out of the wrong hands that’s great.
    These people don’t stop working because it’s election time. Dont get so caught up in the the political BS to where you’re damning the Sheriff on the backs of the deputies doing this service for our community. It is not fair to them.

  25. ANONYMOUSAY says:

    I guess they didn’t plan on using them anyway if they turned them over that easy. How about limiting how many guns are produced by the manufacturer. You can buy back all you want, the corporations will fill the void ten fold. These guns aren’t really on or in the street if you have to lure someone out of their house to give it up for a gift card. What real street criminal is going to turn a gun over for a gift card when he could probably get more by robbing you with that gun. Once again reactive instead of proactive. Produce guns by an order by order basis and see the results then. War on drugs, war on guns. Everybody pays the price except the manufactures it’s all a facade.

  26. Mirabelle says:

    The $7000 came from a grant that was approved by the county commissioners LAST SUMMER. Those elected officials gad to agree it was a worthwhile program. The sheriffs office understands that criminals will not be the ones turning in guns. But the person who has a gun and no longer wants one in the house is the person who will probably come to turn in their guns.

    Why would someone want to get rid of a gun?
    1. Young children in the home.
    2. Teens in the house who may or may not be making poor decisions.
    3. Divorced or widowed lady who is afraid of guns.
    4. A family member died and left guns that family members do not want.

    Why would someone not sell the gun for its actual value?
    1. Not sure of how to sell it legally.
    2. Doesn’t want to be responsible for it getting in to the wrong hands.
    3. just want it out of the house.

    Instead of making this political, be thankful that the sheriffs office has employees who are trying to make OUR COMMUNITY better. It may only be enough for 140 guns but those guns won’t be stolen during a burglary or end up in the hands of someone with bad intentions.

    • Gun Owner says:

      Please tell me the difference between Flagler County Commission Grant and Flagler County Sherriffs office budget? Two are not the same.

  27. Mark says:

    Now people will be stealing guns just to get a gift card, this is a terrible idea.

  28. Gargoylemommy says:

    To me it’s just 50 extra to spend. We moved here 12 years ago with no gun and founf the last owner had left a 30 caliber that we’d never use and he didn’t want (And neither do we.) They can have it. I don’t care about politics and I’ll vote the way I want anyway.

  29. ryan says:

    We need to bring more awareness of the growing gang activity in our county, since they are the main problem with drug dealing, gun crimes, robberies, burglaries, and home invasions. Hopefully the sheriff’s office will do more about this and make it more public. Reality matters more than perception, and in order to solve problems, we need to leave the politics out of this and stick to the facts.

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