As area residents count their blessings this week, they can be thankful for the success of St. Clair County's gun buyback program.
The combination of $100 Schnuck's gift certificates and a no-questions-asked policy resulted in area residents turning in 130 guns on Saturday in East St. Louis -- sawed-off shotguns, hand guns and other weapons.
There's no way of knowing how many of those guns might have been used in the commission of a crime if they had remained in circulation, no way of knowing how many people would have been killed or seriously injured as a result of them. What's certain is that none of these guns will pose a threat to public safety in the future; they're going to be melted down.
Thanks to Sheriff Rick Watson for organizing and promoting the buyback program and helping make it a huge success. Last year just seven guns were turned in; this year officials gave out the 100, $100 gift certificates they had hours before the buyback was scheduled to end.
Thanks to State's Attorney Brendan Kelly, who put $10,000 in illicit drug money seized in raids to good public use.
And thanks to the people who turned in their guns, especially those who did so even after the gift certificates ran out. They didn't get a monetary reward, but we hope they left satisfied anyway knowing that the community is safer thanks to their participation.
Still have a gun you'd like to turn in? East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Floore said people can continue to bring them in. No gift certificates, but still no questions asked.