After homicides, Conway leaders look to add Gun Buy-Back program again

CONWAY, SC (WMBF)- A string of homicides during the past two weeks in Conway has left two men dead after violent shootings.  Now, Conway city leaders are looking for ways to curb the gun violence, including buying the guns back themselves.

"One of the ways that a municipal government can help its citizens is to try and purchase excess guns so that they can be permanently removed from the rotation," said Conway City Councilman Irby Koon.

In 2012, Horry County and Conway Police teamed up to hold the first ever "No Questions Asked" gun buy-back program.  Police said it is an effort  to lower the risks of a gun falling into the wrong hands.

Koon has lived in Conway for roughly 40 years, he said the gun violence in the area is on the rise.

"I moved here in 1970," Koon said.  "The availability of guns, the presence of guns, and the willingness to use guns has increased tremendously."

Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said while getting just one gun through a buy–back program equals one less gun on the street, getting the guns that are part of the violent crimes should be a priority.

"If you could ever crack the code and get the criminal to turn in the guns that would make it so much better," Richardson said.  "But in this case it may be a grandmother or maybe a mother and father that have got a gun laying around and are worried at some point their child will pick the gun up."

The news of two deadly shootings around the start of 2013 might have shocked some people in Conway, Richardson added, but he said it's too early in the year to know if it is a trend.

"Generally when you have one you'll have one not long after that," Richardson said.  "Now if it was one per week for the rest of the year or something that was really blowing it out of the water that would be different."

Koon said the only obstacle standing in the way of organizing another buy-back is figuring out the funding.

Last year, prices ranged from $50-200 per gun depending on the type.  Koon said regardless of the cost, there will be a buy-back this year.

"Whatever it takes to get it done we'll get it done, there will be another buy-back program."

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