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Gun buy-back program will keep weapons off the street

Date: 3/1/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD — Do you have a gun in your house you no longer want or need? The Springfield Police have a deal for you.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 2, bring any unwanted firearms, unloaded and in working condition to the front lobby of Police Headquarters at 130 Pearl St. In exchange, people turning in guns will receive VISA gift cards $50 for every handgun, rifle or shotgun and $100 for every assault rifle.

The program has been funded by private donations and is sponsored by Convenient Cards, Springfield Sheraton Hotel, the Springfield Business Improvement District and the Baystate Medical Center Pediatric and Adult Trauma Services.

The buy-back program is open to residents through out the area and there will be no questions asked about the weapons. A co-sponsor of the program is the Hampden County District Attorney's Office.

The guns should be in a box or bag and any ammunition should be in a separate bag.

"The goal is to get operable guns off the street, out of cars, basements, out of bedrooms and safely disposed of at the Springfield Police Department. All too often, unwanted guns are stolen from citizens' homes or become an unnecessary risk to small children who may find them. It is possible that these unwanted guns end up in the hands of criminals and gang members. These guns could possibly kill innocent victims," Springfield Police Sgt. John Delaney said.

Delaney explained to Reminder Publications the last buy-back program was in 2004 and the impetus for this one came from Convenient Card, a Springfield-based company that is a provider of prepaid card program for community banks and credit unions.

Convenient Card and the other sponsors donated a pool of $10,000 for the program, Delaney said. He added these private donations made the program possible.

He added the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. was the motivation for the effort.

He said the two main targets in house breaks are money and guns.

"A new twist" to the program, Delaney explained, will be if a person with an unwanted gun can't make it to the police, the police will come to them. The department will arrange to have a uniformed police officer go to a person's home and pick up the weapon in exchange for the VISA card(s).

People can make arrangements for the pick-up on March 2 by calling either Delaney, Detective Ricky Rodrigues or Detective Charlie Youmans in the Office of the Police Commissioner at 787-6313 in advance. The calls should be made during business hours.

When asked what he was anticipating in numbers of gun, Delaney said he had no expectations.

"If we get five, I'd be happy, if it was 105, it would be great," he said.