Lafayette councilman launching gun buy-back program

City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux on Thursday announced plans for a new gun buyback program aimed at reducing gun violence in the city.

Boudreaux called on community members to take a more active role in crime prevention following four gun-related incidents over two days in Lafayette, the latest in a string of arsons, burglaries and shootings in recent months.

“To have the amount of gun play that we have been experiencing lately is just unacceptable,” Boudreaux said.

The councilman said he decided to act Thursday morning after what he said was a sleepless night thinking about three gun crimes Wednesday — an armed robbery on South Magnolia Street that left one man injured, a shooting during an argument on East Clinton Street that left another man injured and an armed robbery at a bus stop on East Simcoe Street.

Thursday morning saw another incident: A robber shot at a woman and her brother on Louisiana Avenue while she struggled to hold on to her purse.

No injuries were reported.

Boudreaux said he set an initial goal of $5,000 in donations for the gun buyback program and had raised about half of that by Thursday afternoon.

The goal is to gather up weapons that families feel should be removed from their home, perhaps a pistol found hidden in a closet or under a bed, Boudreaux said.

Boudreaux, who will offer $50 per firearm, said it will be the first gun buyback program he is aware of in the city Lafayette.

“I’m doing this as a private citizen and this will be a no-questions-asked situation,” Boudreaux said. “Right now, our sole objective is getting guns off the street.”

The weapons will be given to the police department for disposal, he said.

The first buyback is tentatively scheduled for Saturday afternoon at The New Church at 2700 Louisiana Avenue.

A specific time has not been set.

Boudreaux said he hopes Saturday’s event will be the first in a series of regular gun buybacks in the city.

Lafayette Police Lt. Mark Francis said that as part of efforts to combat gun violence, police are asking residents who keep guns in their vehicle to lock the doors and keep the firearm out of view.

“A lot of these guns we talk about today are taken in car burglaries,” he said. “We are coming across these weapons on the street.”

Boudreaux on Thursday also called on local pastors to discuss the issue of violence from the pulpit and said community members should keep a closer watch on their children and report crime when they see it.

“We need families to come together again and start caring and looking out for each other. We need families to take a vested interest in what’s going on in Lafayette,” he said.

Police Chief Jim Craft said community involvement is key to addressing gun violence and other crimes.

“We can’t have a policeman on every corner. We can’t do it without the public. The public has to take some ownership on this issue,” he said.

Craft on Thursday also announced that his department plans to resurrect an Explorer youth program that focuses on building character and exposing students to careers in law enforcement.

The program had been cut because of tight resources at the department, but Craft said two volunteers have stepped up to relaunch it.

“It gives them some tools that they need to become productive members of society,” Craft said. “… We are going to see if maybe we can make a difference in getting to these kids before they end up the street with a gun and do something that takes a life, ruins their lives, affects families everywhere.”