Hol­ly­wood po­lice amass arse­nal dur­ing gun buy­back

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Local - By Wayne K. Rous­tan wkrous­[email protected]­sen­tinel.com or 954-356-4303 or Twit­ter @WayneRous­tan

The cor­nu­copia of weapons ranged from BB guns and pis­tols to shot­guns and semi-au­to­matic ri­fles at a gun buy­back hosted by po­lice in Hol­ly­wood.

Be­tween 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Satur­day, a to­tal of 65 firearms were swapped for Publix gifts cards worth $75 to $250.

A line of ve­hi­cles wound around po­lice head­quar­ters, at 3250 Hol­ly­wood Blvd., as soon as the gate opened.

One man turned over nine ri­fles he in­her­ited from a rel­a­tive’s es­tate. An­other man said he would rather turn in his gun for a gift card than risk sell­ing it on­line to a stranger whose in­ten­tions are un­known.

Irv­ing Mer­cado, 30, of Hol­ly­wood, handed over a bolt-ac­tion shot­gun that he said his fam­ily had ly­ing around for a few years.

“It was found in an old prop­erty my fa­ther pur­chased and we just didn’t know what to do with it,” he said. “From my re­search, it had ac­tu­ally been re­called be­cause it’s dan­ger­ous to fire. The bolt might ac­tu­ally come out and hit you in the face.”

The anony­mous, no ques­tions asked, vol­un­tary, non-po­lit­i­cal event was or­ga­nized by Fewer Firearms Fewer Funer­als Now, known as 4F Now.

The group was formed al­most a year ago by Park­land res­i­dents whose chil­dren and spouses were at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School dur­ing the mas­sacre on Feb. 14, 2018.

“We all got to­gether right af­ter the shoot­ing and thought about what we could do … to make safer com­mu­ni­ties,” said mem­ber Dou­glas Ea­ton, whose daugh­ter sur­vived the ram­page that killed 17 stu­dents and staff, and wounded 17 more.

“We’re rais­ing money to fund gun buy­backs, rais­ing aware­ness, and we’re part­ner­ing with sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions that have sim­i­lar val­ues,” he said.

In Septem­ber, 4F Now col­lected 129 firearms at its first gun buy­back, which was held in Coral Springs.

Group mem­ber Deb­bie Hixon at­tended both. Her husband Chris Hixon, the Stone­man Dou­glas ath­letic direc­tor and wrestling coach, was killed pro­tect­ing stu­dents.

“We’re not try­ing to in­fringe on anybody’s Se­cond Amend­ment rights,” she said. “We just want guns that could get into the wrong hands [such as] some­body com­mit­ting sui­cide or a crime.”

Sev­eral things can hap­pen to the firearms that are col­lected, said as­sis­tant Po­lice Chief Manny Marino.

If they were re­ported stolen they could be re­turned to the owner. If they were used in a crime they could be kept as ev­i­dence. If they are in good work­ing or­der they could be used for po­lice train­ing pur­poses or is­sued to the SWAT team. But the bulk are dis­posed of.

“For the most part, all the weapons will be de­stroyed,” he said. “They’ll be melted.”

Park­land par­ent Peter Hut­ton hopes the ef­fort in­spires and grows.

“Our goal here re­ally is to cre­ate a na­tional buy­back day,” he said. “My goal is a mil­lion guns. If we could get mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties all over the coun­try par­tic­i­pat­ing one day a year, that would be a good start.”

WAYNE K. ROUS­TAN/SUN SEN­TINEL

Hol­ly­wood po­lice col­lected dozens of firearms dur­ing a gun buy­back Satur­day.

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