BURLINGTON, N.C. — A new initiative is launching in Alamance County to help get illegal guns off the streets and out of the wrong hands.
Alamance County Crimestoppers is partnering with law enforcement in the county on a program called Gunstoppers. It works just like Crimestoppers, where people in the community can call in tips in exchange for cash rewards.
This program is specifically targeting illegal guns like sawed-off rifles or shotguns, weapons with illegal silences and any stolen weapons. In addition, it's also focused on people who are not supposed to be in possession of a firearm such as felons, parolees or fugitives from justice. If a tip leads to any law enforcement in the county confiscating an illegal weapon, the caller is illegible for a $200 cash reward.
“It’s so important for people to recognize this is not a gun buy back program. We’re not looking to get guns out of Grandma’s closet. We’re looking for stolen firearms, illegally modified firearms, firearms in the hands of convicted felons who haven’t had their rights reinstated,” Burlington Police Chief Jeffrey Smythe said.
Chief Smythe says Burlington, just like many other communities across the Piedmont and the nation, is battling a large amount of gun violence, and this is an effort to curb that.
“Consistently we have at least one gun stolen every week in Burlington, we seize at least two firearms every week in Burlington. And it’s important that this program is helping us get those guns off the street,” Chief Smythe said.
Chief Smythe says it takes an effort from the community to make this work, and to help prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.
“The public has a role to play in that. We had two vehicles stolen earlier this week, last week. The keys were in the car. We get guns stolen out of unlocked cars. The community really has a role to play in this where they need to recognize that we don’t live in a society where you can leave your keys and stuff in unlocked cars,” he said.
Eugene Petersen, the chairman for Alamance County Gunstoppers, says they are doing this effort to help law enforcement in their efforts of making the community safer and helping put a stop to violent crime. He himself has been the victim of a crime involving a firearm.
“We had a home invasion years ago, and in that home invasion we had individuals come into our house and they put guns to the back of all of our heads — me, my wife, and my two young children. That situation really was traumatic for my family. I got involved in Crimestoppers based on that,” Petersen said.
Now he helps raise the money for the company to aid in efforts like this. Alamance County Crimestoppers is privately funded and pays for the cash rewards with donations and fundraising.
If you want to report an illegal gun or someone who is in illegal possession of a firearm, you can call 336-229-7100 or text 8398 to 274637.