HCSO's Operation Gun Swap nets 2,541 weapons - FOX 13 News

HCSO's Operation Gun Swap nets 2,541 weapons

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Among the number of weapons collected on Saturday - two rocket launchers. Among the number of weapons collected on Saturday - two rocket launchers.
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It didn't take long for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office to collect a large cache of weapons during Saturday's Operation Gun Swap.

Officials were pleased with the turnout for the county-wide event.

"If we can prevent one accidental shooting or one firearm from being a target in a burglary we're going to call it a larger success," said HCSO Capt. Chad Chronister.

Cars lined the block at several drop-off locations and some waited more than an hour to turn in their unwanted firearms. In return they received $75 and tickets to a Tampa Bay Rays and a Tampa Bay Lightning game.

Bay area resident Joe Severino lined up early to drop off his weapon.

"It was [just] sitting in the garage," he said. "[This] keeps someone from stealing it that's for sure."

In addition to the obvious safety reasons some viewed the swap as a way to assist local businesses.

"I'm glad to see this happening," said George Kelley, who dropped off a gun. "Take the money and go to the fair so we help the local economy."

The response was so overwhelming that the cash and tickets were gone long before the event ended at 2 p.m. Those who came late were given a voucher they can redeem next weekend.

By the end of the day HCSO had collected over 2,500 weapons; among the take a pair of rocket launchers.

"[If you are] for or against gun control I can't see a valid use for a rocket launcher," Capt. Chronister said.

Deputies manned five locations in and around Tampa and every one of them had steady traffic all day. Some experienced traffic jams. The event was held in reaction to December's tragic school shooting in Connecticut.

Kelley is hopeful events like Saturday's gun swap will ease the minds of many.

"It has to work," he said. "Common sense tells you it is going to work."

HCSO's final tally of guns collected - 2,541.

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