There are thousands of illegal guns on the streets of Memphis and Mayor A C Wharton estimates that more than 1,600 were stolen just last year.
Two Memphis legislators - State Sen. Jim Kyle and State Rep. Antonio Parkinson - have a plan to get at least some of those guns off the streets. The bill, which was introduced in the past week, if passed would create a statewide gun buy-back program like none we've ever seen in Memphis. It would take cash from the criminals and use it to pay for more gun buy-back programs.
They're popular programs; hand over a gun to police and get paid - no questions asked. It won't stop gun violence, but police say any gun taken off the street is a victory.
"The issue of guns and gun safety and making our streets safer is on the minds of most all legislators and we're simply trying to create a tool to make something happen," Sen. Kyle (D-Memphis) said.
Sen. Kyle and Rep. Parkinson want to collect $2 in court fees from any criminal case where a gun was used to commit crime or any illegal gun charges. The money would be used to pay for gun buy-back programs.
The sponsors don't know how much money they would collect but they believe it's enough to get started.
"That we're trying to do is create a funding mechanism through additional court costs on gun-related crimes in order to buy the guns of those who would be willing to sell them no questions asked," Sen. Kyle said.
The city of Memphis and community leaders have sponsored privately funded buy-back programs. Pastor Ralph White of Bloomfield Baptist Church helped organize an event last fall.
"I think any money that's coming in can be helpful," Rev. White said. He still has questions about how the money will be distributed.
In November 2012, more than 500 guns were traded in for gas cards and Grizzlies tickets.
"We took some off the street and it's a situation where it's like eating an elephant," Rev. White said. "You can't eat the whole fella. It's a bite at a time."
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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