So many firearms were traded in for cash Tuesday that all five gun buyback stations in Marin ran out of money by early afternoon, leaving vouchers to be handed out instead.
The tally for the collection day, which ended at 8 p.m., was 827 guns, said police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher. Of those, 277 were collected at the Novato station, 223 in San Rafael, 206 in Larkspur, 71 in Marin City and 50 in Point Reyes Station.
The number of cash payments versus vouchers was not available Tuesday night.
Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian said he's pleased by the program's popularity.
"This was much more responsive than we expected," Berberian said. "There's a lot of these guns out there, and they don't need to be."
Berberian launched the $40,000 gun buyback program after the Connecticut elementary school shootings last month that claimed the lives of 20 children and six educators. It was timed to coincide with the birth date of Martin Luther King Jr.
Residents of Marin, San Francisco, Contra Costa and Sonoma counties turned out in force for the first Marin County buyback to trade in their firearms for either $200 or $100, depending on whether the gun was a semi-automatic, with no questions asked.
Rohrbacher said the money went quickly, but people could still turn in their guns the rest of the day on Tuesday, and there will be another buyback event on Monday.
"They'll be given a voucher, which then can be
As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, the San Rafael station alone had collected and given out vouchers for a total of 200 firearms, she said.
Concord resident Bob Oliver made an early trip to the San Rafael Police Department to get rid of two handguns and a shotgun. Oliver said he heard about the buyback Tuesday morning and decided it was time to part with the firearms.
"There are too many handguns on the street, too many killings," Oliver said.
He was one of more than 20 people who lined the streets in their cars around the San Rafael Police Department before the buyback began at 11 a.m. The department conducted a drive-up operation in which people drove up to the station and had their guns removed from their vehicles by officers.
San Rafael resident Elise Campeau looked over her shoulder from the driver's seat as officers removed a Super .38, 1965 revolver from her back seat. She said the gun was inherited from her grandfather.
"I took it to the gun shop and they said it was a piece of junk," Campeau said. "I don't like guns and it's time to get rid of it."
Lee Collet, a Fairfax resident and former U.S. Marine, said his father's World War II-era gun was worth at least $400, but he didn't feel comfortable selling it.
"I wouldn't sell it because it's untraceable," Collet said, adding that the gun was never registered and wasn't well-marked.
He said he feared selling the gun and having it out and about in the community.
Mother and son team Greg Bourassa, of Petaluma, and Joyce Bourassa, of Fairfax, made the trip to San Rafael to turn in a single-shot Winchester model 67.
"She's had it since she was 19 for target practice," Greg Bourassa said of his mother.
Joyce Bourassa said she hadn't shot the gun since she was 41, more than 40 years ago, and decided it was time to get rid of it.
"I don't think I'm going to go target practicing any time soon," she said.
In Novato, some 60 people queued up outside police headquarters downtown by the time the buyback started at 11 a.m. Some of them came from as far away as Santa Rosa to turn in unwanted hunting rifles, semi-automatic pistols, revolvers and other firearms.
"The shotgun was for home protection, supposedly," David Zimmerman, 76, of Santa Rosa said as he waited with his wife to turn in four rifles and two pistols. "We live in a very safe place and I never have used it and probably never would."
Zimmerman said he used to shoot at targets near his former home in Florida, and more recently in the Sonoma County hills, but he no longer needed the weapons.
"I'd rather they get destroyed," he said. "There are too many guns in the world right now."
Others said they planned to keep some of their firearms but wanted to dispose of those they no longer needed.
"It's just a symbolic gesture," said Charles Finney, 69, of Novato, who planned to hand over a .22-caliber rifle.
Finney said he still keeps a weapon that is "way stronger" at home for protection, but he has granddaughters in the first and second grades and wanted to make a statement after the Connecticut shooting.
"The message is for me," he said. "I feel better about myself."
In Marin City, a steady stream of people turned up at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church to get cash for their firearms, some of which still were operational, others not.
"I think it's a good idea," said Greg Alvernaz of San Rafael, who came to Marin City after he found out that cash had run out at the Larkspur buyback station. He received $300 for .22- and .38-caliber handguns. "These were sitting around and it's good to get them out of my house."
Rohrbacher said all of the collected guns would be melted down or shredded.
"We'll be holding them until next week, then the DA's office will collect them from all the different sites and destroy them," Rohrbacher said.
Berberian said each location was given the same amount of money Tuesday except for the Point Reyes Station sheriff's substation, because fewer people were anticipated to go there.
Firearms will be collected from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at the San Rafael Police Department and the Mill Valley Police Department.