Orlando police turned to exchanging guns for sneakers today after more violence that threatens Central Florida’s image as a family-friendly tourist destination, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Five patrons suffered were wounded and a police officer returned fire early in a massive gunfight erupted at a nightclub. It was the 15th shooting reported in less than a year near Orange County sheriff’s headquarters.
Cops and deputies don’t expect criminals today to trade their weapons for pairs of Nikes. “The goal is to remove unwanted guns from homes so we don’t have to worry about them getting stolen in a burglary and used later against citizens,” said police Detective Barb Bergin of Crimeline. “Lots of people don’t know how to get rid of guns safely.” Police had received more than 130 guns by 11 a.m. Reducing gun violence has become a critical political issue as a result of last year’s record-breaking 49 murders in the city and 64 more in the unincorporated county. Elected officials, hoteliers, and tourism experts say more of the same could devastate the region’s economy.