In the midst of a heightened public debate regarding gun control, in the aftermath of mass shootings around the country and an increased homicide rate in Hartford in 2015, the Capital Region Gun Buyback program – now in its 7th year – will take place on Saturday, December 19 at the Community Renewal Team in Hartford. “Unwanted firearms in the home are dangerous,” officials point out, asking that Connecticut residents “turn in a working gun in a clear plastic bag” in exchange for a gift card. Guns may be turned in anonymously. Those doing so will receive a $200 gift card for an assault rifle, $100 gift card for a handgun or revolver, and $25 gift card for a shotgun or rifle. Although held in Hartford and focused on the capital region, the buyback is open to all state residents.
Participating sponsors include Hartford Hospital, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association, Stop & Shop, Lamar Advertising and the Community Renewal Team, at 555 Windsor Street, which is the drop-off location for the weapons.
The program also occurs in the midst of renewed efforts by gun control advocates including Gov. Dannel Malloy. On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Charles Schumer announced plans for New York to join Malloy in banning gun sales to those on federal no-fly lists. Malloy proposed the ban last Thursday, announcing he would issue an executive order to ban the sales. A similar law was passed by New Jersey's legislature two years ago, according to published reports.
Officials in Worcester, Mass. report that the local annual Goods for Guns buyback program there saw over 271 firearms and 54 pellet guns to law enforcement throughout central Massachusetts last Saturday (Dec. 12). Local residents were able to trade in guns for supermarket gift cards at police departments across the region. Rifles, replica guns and pellet guns were exchanged for $25. Pistols could be traded in for $50, while $75 was given for semiautomatic weapons. The Associated Press, citing local officials, reported that 103 rifles, 125 handguns and 43 semiautomatic weapons were turned in. Worcester collected weapons for the towns of Shrewsbury, Northborough and Westborough.
Hartford police also conducted a gun buyback program in June, which brought two dozen weapons, according to published reports. And reports leading into last December’s buyback program in Hartford indicated that more than 800 unwanted firearms were collected in the first five years of the annual program. On December 14, 2014, a total of 104 weapons were collected, according to local officials. That compares with the first year of the program, in which 78 weapons were turned in.
A similar program in Bridgeport since 2012 has netted more than 1,000 guns. The most recent buyback program was held in August, according to local news reports, led by the Bridgeport Police Department’s Community Services Division, in which 127 weapons were turned in. In Stamford, a gun buyback program in 2013 brought in 63 firearms and in 2014 the city’s police department saw 76 firearms turned in.
Officials point out that non-working guns, black-powder weapons, flare guns, pellet/BB guns and ammunition /magazine clips may be turned in, however they will not be eligible for a gift card. More information about Saturday’s program in Hartford is available by calling 860-249-1072.
In Rochester, New York last month, a one-day gun buyback program saw more than 200 working firearms turned in. A gun buyback program was held in San Francisco this past weekend. That city has seen 950 guns turned in during gun buyback programs since 2011. Totals for this year were not yet available. That same day in Clearwater, Florida a total of 458 guns were collected by local police officers in about four hours.