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York City Police Lt. Matthew Leitzel speaks about the gun buyback event on Oct. 27, a collaboration between the police department and the York County District Attorney's Office to collect unwanted guns to keep them out of the hands of criminals. Wochit

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Sharon Spoon had her gun for 40 years.

"It was my father's," she said.

Spoon, originally from Warrington Township, recently moved to Dover Township and turned in her father's .22-caliber, Italian-made starter pistol during York City's gun buyback event on Friday, Oct. 27.

The York City Police Department and York County District Attorney’s Office collected guns from 6 to 8 p.m at a fire station on East Market Street. It was billed as an effort to prevent unused guns from finding their way into the hands of criminals. 

Gun owners had a number of reasons for giving up their firearms.

One man's father had been a hunter, but he said he didn't believe in guns, so he was turning them in to get them out of his house.

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Jim Sebright, of Springettsbury Township, brought in his .22-caliber Ruger, which he said he hadn't fired in 20 years.

He got the gun from his sister-in-law, whose husband had owned the gun. 

"I thought I could use it," Sebright said, on why he bought the gun from her.

But the longer he had it, the more he realized he didn't need it, and now that he has two grandchildren around the house, so he'd rather it be gone.

"I've been wanting to get rid of it," Sebring said. He applauded the gun buyback event, saying, "It's amazing."

The buyback event was no-questions-asked, but police did ask owners of loaded guns if they wanted to keep the bullets.

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In return for their contribution, gun owners received a $50 gift card to The Villa, a shoe store on South George Street.

York City Police Lt. Matthew Leitzel said officers picked the location to support a city business and because they thought younger gun owners might be interested — though one white-haired woman seemed very excited by the gift. "Fifty dollars!" she exclaimed.

Stationed next to the firehouse was a man holding a cardboard sign that read, "Consult Me First," in an effort to attract gunowners who might want to get a fairer price than the city's $50. 

He said he was not affiliated with any gun shop, but believed some guns were likely worth more than what the city could provide. About halfway through the event, he said he had not yet had anyone stop by.

Friday's buyback was the first in the city in almost 10 years. The last time a buyback event was held, in April 2007, 57 guns were collected.

This year, as of about 7 p.m. Friday, police collected 35 guns. They did not have a goal for the event but had 100 gift cards donated by the district attorney's office to give out to anyone who participated, Leitzel said.

Police will cross-reference the guns' serial numbers with a database of stolen weapons in an effort to return any stolen guns to their rightful owners, but the rest will be destroyed — taken to a scrap yard and put through a grinder, he said.

Leitzel said typically in the past, buyback events were held every two to three years, so it's likely the city could see another buyback sooner rather than later.

Mayor Kim Bracey, who said she was in the neighborhood for a community event, stopped by to support the city's efforts.

She said she's hopeful that the gun buyback will be a way to get guns off the streets.

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