Photo: Howard County Police/Facebook.com
COLUMBIA, Md. (WUSA9) - It might be an understatement to say county officials were shocked seeing a long line of cars in Howard County.
Drivers waited for as long as an hour and a half to get to this mobile command unit to sell their guns.
"The turnout was amazing," Howard County Chief Bill McMahon said.
This is the first time in 18 years Howard County has held a gun buyback. In light of the all the recent shootings, including the one at a Newtown, Connecticut school, that left 20 kids dead, leaders felt like it was time to bring back the program.
On Saturday, cars pulled up as officers inspected and tagged the guns. In return, the gun owners drove away with $100 for each one turned in.
Police took all types of firearms, pistols, rifles and shotguns.
"We said what are all the ways we can make this community as safe as possible, this was just one idea. We said we had a fund filled with money from drug dealers when we seized assets, we have a fund to purchase these guns," Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said.
The last time the county held this was in the 90's. One time they bought back 15 guns, the other time, only three guns but this time officers purchased 631 guns.
"If it's one tragedy that we can prevent here today then I think it's worth it," Ulman said.
There was one person protesting the decision to hold this event.
Jeff Underwood is a federal firearms licensee and as people waited in line, he looked at some of the guns that he said were not functional.
"It's a total waste of money because it's a non-operational firearm to begin with," he said.
Despite the protest, county officials say less guns on the streets means a safer community for all of us.
Leon Thomas, who sold his gun today, said considering the number of people who showed up, it was probably a very good use of money.
After the event wrapped up the Howard County Police Department said they spent about $63,000 during the buyback.