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NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- A plan by law enforcement to buy unwanted guns to get them off the street got off to a fast start Friday, with people lining up outside early to exchange guns for cash.
Police had planned to buy guns from noon until 8 p.m., but people showed up in force, with lines forming outside the Ekin Avenue Recreation Center well before the program was set to start at noon.
Some people brought over a dozen guns to sell. So police taped a sign to the glass door informing people that the program would end as soon as the funds were depleted.
The city had promised $200 for pistols, shotguns and rifles and $300 for assault-style weapons.
Because of that, at the last minute the city changed the rules and placed a limit on the number of certain guns that would be accepted from each person: there was no limit on the number of assault-style weapons or handguns one person could sell, but there was a limit of three rifles per person.
Sellers only had to prove they were residents of New Albany to sell their guns -- with no questions asked.
The idea for the buyback originated before the nearly two dozen elementary students were massacred by a gunman in Connecticut, but that incident added a sense of urgency to the program.
The program ended at 1:30 p.m., 90 minutes after it started. During that time, police collected 250 firearms. Of those, 40 percent were handguns. Police also collected two assault-style weapons, including one AK-47.
We spoke with Tom Eason, the first person in line, who told us he arrived at 8:30 a.m. with nine guns to sell.
"You know, I just wanted to help out and get some off the street," Eason said. "I've got gun safes and stuff like that I use to put my guns in, but you never know, you get too many guns and somebody breaks in your house, and they end up out on the street with them."
Other cities have seen similar successes with gun buyback programs. Earlier this week, police in Los Angeles collected more than 2,000 firearms, including 75 assault-style weapons.
So many people showed up to take advantage of the program that some people wondered if the city was offering up too much cash, but Maj. Keith Whitlow with the New Albany Police Department disagrees.
"You got to make something like this more inviting than you do for the person who wants to buy a guy that can't -- the convicted felon or whatever -- so if we can offer more than what you make on the street, that's our goal," Whitlow said.
Whitlow says the gun buyback was so successful that city officials are considering allocating funds for similar programs in the future.