A local news crew watched this week as a Texas gun owner, concerned about gun violence after recent mass shootings, surrendered his AK-47 to police.
The Austin man, who asked to be identified as Billy, smashed the firearm with a hammer before turning the weapon in to authorities.
He told the news outlet he’s been a gun owner since he was 10-years-old, but now sees the relinquishing of his weapons as a way of protecting his family.
“The massive shootings, all the lives, all the blood is hard to ignore,” he told Fox 7.
“We need to get them off the streets. I need to get mine off the streets. I can only speak for myself and pray for everyone else,” Billy added.
Cameras captured Billy walking into Austin Police Headquarters and speaking with police, who told him to leave his gun in a truck until an officer could confiscate it.
Billy said he considers his gesture an act of courage – one which he encouraged other gun owners to join him in making.
“I would encourage anyone that is in my position to do the same. It’s not easy. It takes a lot more thought and a lot more courage to do this than to buy it,” he said.
The gun debate in America
The occurrence of several mass shootings in the past few months have intensified an already heated national gun debate.
Gun control activists have renewed calls for increased restrictions on the purchase of firearms, citing data from organizations such as the Gun Violence Archive to claim that America is in the midst of a gun violence epidemic.