Deputies hold gun buyback event in Orange County

Program offers $50 gift card in exchange for gun

ORLANDO, Fla. – Deputies in Orange County are looking to get unwanted guns off the street during a gun buyback event Thursday.

[PHOTOS:  Guns given to deputies for $50 gift cards | Simple gun safety devices]

In its third year, the event offers a $50 gift card to anyone wishing to dispose of a firearm anonymously.

Deputies said their goal is preventing guns from getting into the hands of criminals. 

As of 2 p.m., more than 187 guns, including a TEC-9 semiautomatic handgun and dozens of rifles, had been turned over to authorities.

According to the sheriff's office, 601 firearms were reported stolen in 2016, and a majority of thefts came from vehicles.

"What we're seeing is vehicles are still being left open, unlocked," Orange County sheriff's Capt. Angelo Nieves said.  "In those vehicles, not only is there items of value, but there's also a firearm and that's irresponsible."

Thursday's event is held in honor of Deputy Scott Pine, who was shot and killed in 2014 by a man with a stolen gun.

"These guns go in the hands of violent criminals, teenagers and sometimes mentally ill persons get their hands on these guns," Undersheriff Rey Rivero said.

As part of their responsible gun ownership program, deputies also offer free gun locks to gun owners.

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The gun buyback event is from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at 2719 South Orange Blossom Trail.

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