MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey said the county’s most recent gun buyback took place Thursday morning. The gun was recovered from an 18-year-old high school student. Central Alabama CrimeStoppers confirmed it is the third gun recovered from a minor this year through the organization’s gun buyback program. Tony Garrett, executive director for CACS, said the first two for the year were recovered in January. One of the teens was a student in Montgomery County, and the other was from another school system.
“It’s an easy way for someone to make money and also, maybe, save a life,” Bailey said.
The year-round program offers $300 for each report of a teen with a gun, and Bailey said the reward is bumped up to $500 if the gun is on school property. In 2017, more than 100 guns were recovered from underage carriers and thousands of dollars were paid out in exchange.
Garrett confirmed there were 28 guns recovered from youth through the program in 2018.
“Most of those were in schools,” Bailey said.
This week, a teen was charged with attempted murder after allegedly firing a gun and injuring a student on campus at Robert E. Lee High School. Law enforcement immediately swept the campus and conducted an investigation that revealed two other weapons were on campus that were unrelated to the initial shooting.
“I don’t know what they [MPS] can do, but they need to do something quickly so this doesn’t happen again,” Bailey said. “State leaders need to do something. We’re talking about all types of legislation. There needs to be a study on this quickly and find the best solutions to keep these guns out of the schools.”
Last school year, schools systems in Alabama reported 16 incidents of handgun possession to the Alabama Department of Education. Four of those incidents were reported by Montgomery County.
Bailey said the problem of guns being brought to school is present in Montgomery County, and he said it’s parents’ responsibility to stop it from happening.
“Most of the time, kids are getting the guns off the street,” Bailey said. “They’re either stealing them, breaking in cars, breaking in cars and stealing them that way or stealing them from parents or other relatives. They’re coming one of those two ways.”
Bailey said the community can help by securing their guns and making them less accessible.
Guns are not the only type of weapon the state and local systems keep track of. The state received 467 incident reports of knife possessions and 372 reports of other weapon possessions. There were also 12,352 reports of fighting.
Sixteen incidents of knife possession and 36 incidents of other weapon possession were from Montgomery County. The system reported 902 fighting incidents.
Bailey said the issue of fighting in schools becomes more concerning when weapons are potentially involved.
“We’re going to have to start instilling more conflict resolution in our schools,” Bailey said. “You know, teaching our young people how to resolve conflicts outside of violence, which is what they do now. A lot of that is learned from parents...the number of kids that are in our iLead class who have a parent or older sibling who is in a gang is unbelievable. The number of fifth graders who are claiming gangs is unbelievable.”
As Montgomery Public Schools prepares to revamp its school safety plans, following Tuesday’s incident, Bailey said its the responsibility of Montgomery County as a whole to take ownership of a problem that he said, in itself, isn’t going away.
“We have to be vigilant,” Bailey said. “If you look on Facebook, Instagram or social media, there are guns all over the place in the hands of these kids. That’s something parents have to be vigilant about. You are not a good parent if you’re not looking through your child’s cell phone and looking through your child’s social media. If they do have a gun or they’re displaying a gun or gang signs, you better do something about it. If you don’t, one of two things is going to happen. They’re either going to end up dead or in prison."
If you own a business or oversee a community organization or church and you would like to display a poster to support the buyback program, please contact the Montgomery County DA’s office.