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Buy-back offers gift cards for guns

$50-$100 each, no questions asked

GREENFIELD — Local police will buy handguns and rifles from the public Saturday, in a no-questions-asked gun buy-back.

The buy-back will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the police station at 321 High St. A buy-back at the Northampton Police Station will run simultaneously.

All firearms must be unloaded and brought to the station in a bag or case.

The anonymous buy-back was organized by the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.

“We are focusing on getting guns out of homes that could be stolen or made accessible to people with depression or suicidal ideation,” said Chris Geffin, event organizer for the DA.

The office was approached by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America this spring with the idea.

Among the organizers is Linda Shippie of West Springfield, who lost her son Matthew Heenan to a self-inflicted gunshot on June 26, 1998.

“There are more deaths from suicide by gun than there are homicides altogether,” said Geffin. “That’s a pretty staggering statistic.”

“The social, economic and human costs associated with gun violence are immeasurable,” said District Attorney David E. Sullivan.

While Geffin admits that criminals are unlikely to give up their guns, she feels the buyback will help keep firearms out of reach of those struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, homes with guns are five times more likely to experience the suicide of a family member than those without. The CDC also states that 68 percent of suicides by 15- to 24-year-olds are committed with guns.

There are also gun-related accidents to be considered.

“Though the rate of gun injuries is not as high in Franklin County as it is elsewhere, we still see them in our emergency room,” said Dr. Kishi Talati, medical director of the Emergency Department at Baystate Franklin Medical Center. “If we can prevent just one child from accidentally getting in the way of a bullet, this program will have been worthwhile — for the child, for his or her family and friends, and for the entire community.”

The buy-back could also help keep guns out of criminals’ hands indirectly, said Geffin. Firearms are a tempting item to take during break-ins, police know.

Both collection sites are offering a $50 pre-paid debit card for each working handgun, rifle or shotgun, and $100 in cards for each working assault rifle.

Nonworking guns, as well as ammunition, will be accepted, but gift cards will not be issued for them.

More than $15,000 has been raised to put on the buy-back, said Geffin, with additional support coming from Baystate Health, Northampton Pediatrics, Clinical Support Options, the Hampshire and Franklin counties deputy sheriffs’ associations and the Northwestern Anti-Crime Task Force.

The guns collected will meet one of two fates. The Springfield Armory Museum will have first crack at antique firearms. If curators choose to add the guns to the museum’s collection, the DA’s office will donate them free of charge.

Modern and non-collectible weapons, however, will be destroyed.

“They will be ground up at a location in Greenfield,” said Geffin. The destruction of the guns will be recorded on video, she said.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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