Between the four gun buyback events in 2022, over 350 weapons were collected, including five assault rifles.

Between the four gun buyback events in 2022, over 350 weapons were collected, including five assault rifles.

Photo provided by Father Chris Yaw

Gun buyback returns to Southfield

By: Kathryn Pentiuk | Southfield Sun | Published December 6, 2023

 Southfield Police Officer Dylan Hayes works last year’s gun buyback event.

Southfield Police Officer Dylan Hayes works last year’s gun buyback event.

Photo provided by Father Chris Yaw


SOUTHFIELD — The Oakland County Board of Commissioners’ gun buyback pilot program included four events in October 2022, with a total collection of 353 weapons, including five assault rifles, and more than $35,000 in gift cards given out in Auburn Hills, Berkley, Bloomfield Township, Ferndale, Lathrup Village, Royal Oak and Southfield.

On Nov. 16, the board voted unanimously to approve $10,000 from its Safer Community Fund to support a countywide gun buyback event Dec. 9 at St. David’s Episcopal Church on 12 Mile Road.

“Our work on violence in our county began after Sandy Hook,” County Commission Vice Chair Marcia Gershenson said. “The slaughter of first graders motivated a bipartisan group to learn about preventative initiatives. Today, we continue to be motivated by the precious memories of Hana, Justin, Tate and Madisyn from Oxford, and Alex, Arielle and Brian from Michigan State. While we continue to send thoughts and prayers, we are committed to taking actions such as (crisis intervention training) and adding co-responders,” she said.

Gershenson added that the co-responders program will be implemented before the end of the year, placing a social worker in a police car when addressing calls that have a mental health component.

The Dec. 9 gun buyback will take place 9 a.m.-1 p.m. or until supplies run out in partnership with St. David’s Episcopal Church and the Southfield Police Department.

Attendees will receive Meijer or Target gift cards in exchange for functioning weapons.

Parts of weapons or broken weapons will not be accepted.

Attendees will receive $50 for long guns, $100 for handguns and $200 for “assault rifles,” up to $300 total per participating vehicle.

There will be no limit on the number of weapons a participant may turn in.

All weapons must be unloaded and secured in the trunk of a vehicle. Ammunition will also be accepted.

“These are public safety issues,” said Father Chris Yaw, the rector at St. David’s Episcopal Church. “This is my emphasis. I want a safer community. I want our community to be as healthy as possible. This is not the answer to the huge gun problem we have in this country, but this is one of the answers, because you never get one answer to a huge problem. It’s always a thousand little ones. And we chose to just concentrate on this one, you know? What can you do? Well, thoughts and prayers, but, hey, we can do this too.”

Yaw approached Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren last year about what the community could do to promote gun safety, which led to his involvement in the gun buyback program. Yaw added that all four participating locations experienced what the Southfield location did, “they ran out of gift cards in no time and had long lines of people.”

Barren said he was hesitant about gun buybacks at first because he felt that criminals weren’t going to hand in their weapons. However, his mindset changed when he realized that these buybacks could help keep children safe.

“I realized there was an avenue to why gun buybacks are appropriate and useful because, again, guns are in these homes,” he said. “Our children are getting their hands on these unsecured weapons that are loaded. And you see it happen all year, throughout the country, in all communities. All communities are dealing with children getting their hands on a weapon to shoot their playmate or themselves. And these things have ended in tragedy across the nation.”

Barren said there are a multitude of reasons why someone might want to turn in their weapon, such as inheriting an unwanted weapon from a loved one passing, or living with someone with a dementia diagnosis or another condition.

Yaw added that gun buybacks are not for responsible gun owners who “store their guns properly, follow good guidelines, keep them out of the hands of kids and people going through mental distress, and secure them so thieves can’t get them.” He said these buybacks aren’t trying to infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners. The buybacks are meant for willing participants who possess an unwanted weapon for whatever reason.

Barren mentioned that anyone with an unwanted weapon who is unable to attend the gun buyback event may call the Southfield Police Department and arrange a time to drop off their weapon. They may remain in the vehicle, and an officer will come out to the parking lot to retrieve the unloaded weapon.

The County Commission included $25,000 for the Safer Communities Fund to support projects that improve the safety of students, residents and visitors in Oakland County.

Gershenson encouraged residents to contact their local commissioner with any suggestions or ideas to make Oakland County safer.

For more information on the Safer Communities Fund, visit and select “Board Programs.”

For more information on the upcoming gun buyback or to donate, visit

To contact the Southfield Police Department, call (248) 796-5500.