EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- El Paso County commissioners unanimously approved funds to start a gun buyback program Monday.
This comes after growing concerns over a recent uptick in gun violence among teens and young adults.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, firearms are the leading cause of death in children and youth from ages 0 to 24 years of age in the U.S. They say in 2020, firearms resulted in over 10,000 deaths.
County commissioners unanimously voted to use $300,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds to establish the new program.
With the funds they will purchase gift cards to give to those who voluntarily turn in guns at their events.
Jackie Arroyo Butler, Policy Advisor for the county, said these funds will allow them to host two, if not three gun buyback events.
60 percent of the money will go to the gift cards, the remaining will pay for marketing and staff.
Butler said for the first event they’d like to focus on youth in order to curb violent crime amongst the demographic.
”Even up ‘till now, not hardly a weekend goes by that we don’t see our youth and juveniles involved in gun violence, and gun deaths here in the county,” she said.
The program is being modeled after a program in Harris county, where they have collected over 4,200 weapons.
Butler showed commissioners a timeline of events leading to this proposal.
She said the idea began when the County Attorney’s Office reported a significant increase in violent juvenile offenses last summer, but the tipping point was the February 2022 Cielo Vista Mall shooting.
One 17-year-old boy died and three others were injured after two groups of teens got into a fight in the food court area.
The county hopes to have the first event on October 28 at Ascarate park.