Dan Aykroyd, best known for his work as a ghostbuster, Canadian vodka mogul, and supporter of outgoing Sheriff Tyrone Lewis, still wants to help end gun violence in Hinds County.
Aykroyd, whom Lewis deputized into the reserves last year and hit the campaign trail for Lewis earlier this year, made a plea on his Facebook page yesterday:
"Congratulations to the new Sheriff Elect for Hinds County Mississippi. When he persuades enough Supervisors to alter the by-laws so that 'Gas for Guns' can proceed then I'll free up my $10,000 but not until it's perfectly legal as per stipulations pointed out by state Representative Gibson (sic). I believe this initiative and more like it are essential in a state where gun violence exceeds most of that in the entire Western world. I believe in the future of Hinds County."
As a point of clarification, Victor Mason, who defeated Lewis in August still has to get by Les Tannehill to be the sheriff for real for real.
But the stipulations Aykroyd is referring to came a few months ago when Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, and chairman of a House judiciary committee, put the kibosh on a plan for Aykroyd to provide $10,000 in gasoline gift cards in exchange for guns. Gipson intervened, issuing a statement saying that gun buyback programs are illegal. In 2014, after a few years of trying, the Legislature passed a bill outlawing gun buyback programs.
"I think it's a dangerous thing," Gipson, who sponsored the 2014 bill, told WLBT last year. "As we have seen in other states, it has the potential for corruption, the potential to increase crimes with stolen guns to be brought in. That's the reason we have the law."
It was a bill that legislators like Gipson and Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, chairman on the House Insurance Committee, filed that the National Rifle Association has pushed for years. The JFP reported when the bill was going through the legislative process:
Doug Bowser, president of the Mississippi chapter of the NRA, told the JFP in 2012 that such programs are a "swindle" and "a feel-good thing" that do little to deter violent crime.
"I think the worst part is that people bring in unserviceable guns, and they get money for them," Bowser said. Bowser said he believes local governments should put more resources on imposing harsher penalties on criminals.
The 2010 report "Trace the Guns: The Link Between Gun Laws and Interstate Trafficking" determined that Mississippi supplied 50 out-of-state "crime guns" per 100,000 residents--triple the national average of 14.1.
In 2011, the NRA has also weighed in against a proposal for a pilot gun buyback program in Delaware in a statement at the time: "This legislation is nothing more then an expensive solution in search of a problem.
"While proponents of this bill claim it will reduce crime in Delaware, it will only serve as another drain on taxpayer money that could be better used by police to enforce current law. The average person who voluntarily surrenders a firearm to police is not a criminal, and the firearms surrendered are not those misused by criminals."