The Cedar Rapids Police Department will host a gun buy-back program this weekend the department is calling “Cedar Rapids Taking Aim at Guns” or “CR TAG.” Department spokesperson, Sergeant Cristy Hamblin, says the program is the idea of Police Chief Wayne Jerman. Hamblin says Jerman arrived two years ago and noticed there had been an increase in shots fired across the city and he wanted to do a gun buyback.

Hamblin says it took longer than they wanted to raise the funds needed to buy the weapons. She says while they will be buying back guns, their bigger target is an overall awareness of not properly storing guns. “It’s the education piece that we are really stressing the most, that’s one of the reasons why we will inventory sheets there,” Hamblin says. She says if people still have weapons at home they want them to know the importance of recording the gun’s serial number.

Hamblin says the serial number is the key identifier for weapons. “Half of the guns that have been stolen over the past few years, the owners have not recorded the serial number,” Hamblin says. “That’s one of the frustrating things, that we’ve got going is, even of we come across the bad guys with a gun, often times we can’t charge them with anything. Because often times we can’t charge them with being in possession of a stolen gun, because the original owner didn’t record the serial number.”

Hamblin says they will also have gun locks available to help people secure their guns. And she says they are stressing the need to teach kids about gun safety. “Talk to your kids about gun safety, keep them out of their reach. Every year we read about kids shot, killed, by their own friends, because guns were not properly secured at home,” Hamblin says. The Cedar Rapids gun buy-back program begins Saturday, September 27th at 10:00 A.M.

The department will give each person that turns in a gun a 100-dollar gift card to a local store until their gift cards run out.