February 12, 2016: Common Sense

Ideas pushed as “Common Sense” gun laws are typically about restricting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. The other side of the coin is reducing violence carried out with firearms by addressing the “illegal” gun owner.

Hillsborough County (Florida) has just announced a bounty on illegal guns. This was not brought about by legislation at any level.  Rather it is an attempt to enforce existing laws.  It represents the collaboration and cooperation of the City of Tampa Police Department, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and the City of Tampa.  It will be administered by Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay. 

The concept is to encourage the people who are closest to the illegal gun owners to place a tip that will start an investigation. If the investigation leads to an arrest, the tipster gets $1,000.

It may not be enough for a retiring ATF agent to burn all their CI’s before retirement, but it is significantly more than someone receives from a gun buy-back program. The buy-back requires a person to be in possession of the gun, legal or illegal.  The bounty requires credible information about a person who may have an illegal gun.

While the idea is not new, other programs have come to an end when the seed money ran out. Hillsborough County has a plan for a sustainable source of funding.   A $40 fee will be assessed to every defendant charged with a third-degree felony who enters a pretrial intervention program.  Based on last year’s statistics, the plan could generate $60,000 a year.  Taken with allocated seed money of $45,000, it sounds like a sustainable program that doesn’t rely on additional taxes for the residents of Hillsborough County. 

This information is based on an article in the Tampa Tribune by Keith Morelli.

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