My Turn: Gun buyback a worthy effort

DAVID E. SULLIVAN

DAVID E. SULLIVAN

By DAVID E. SULLIVAN

Published: 04-11-2024 4:14 PM

 

As district attorney for 47 towns that make up the Northwestern District, I invite everyone to consider turning in unwanted firearms and ammunition this Saturday, April 13, when our office holds its third Gun Buyback in Greenfield and Northampton.

This entirely voluntary and simple program offers gift cards in exchange for weapons. It is one strategy in what should be a multipronged effort to protect our communities from gun violence. It’s a small attempt to put unused firearms out of commission so they can’t be used impulsively or accidentally to hurt or kill anyone. Nobody needs to worry that the government is interfering with anybody’s right to own a gun.

Similar initiatives in our district removed 300 guns in 2013 and just under 300 in 2016. Guns collected are destroyed, and the destruction process is videotaped.

Why do we go through all this trouble when, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, Massachusetts has the lowest rate of gun violence in the country? I agree that is a good statistic, but it’s also true that annually in this state, 255 people die and another 688 are wounded by firearms, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. For anyone who knows and loves those victims, those numbers certainly are too high.

Other key statistics represent the numbers of intentional gun deaths: In Massachusetts, 56% of gun fatalities are suicides; 41% are homicides.

These are individual, familial, and societal traumas that we do not have to accept. The simple truth is that when guns are readily available, there is a much higher chance of suicide and accidental injury or death.

Efforts to curb the epidemic of gun injuries and death must be made on many fronts. This is just one strategy, one I think is worth our time because the more guns that are in circulation, the more chance there is for someone to be hurt or killed accidentally.

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Firearms will be accepted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Northampton Police Station, 29 Center St., and the Greenfield Police Station, 321 High St. They must be in working condition, unloaded, and in a bag. Ammunition also will be accepted. Antique guns will be delivered to the Springfield Armory.

This gun buyback is organized by the Northwestern District Attorney’s office in collaboration with Hampshire and Franklin sheriff’s offices and the Northampton and Greenfield police departments, and is funded by a Project Safe Neighborhood Grant awarded by Gov. Maura Healey’s office. I’m appreciative of this partnership and hope people in our cities and towns will take full advantage.

Some say such buybacks are ineffective. The problem with all prevention efforts, including this one, is that it is impossible to measure something that was prevented. For me, close to 600 weapons removed from circulation represents a success. I hope this Saturday we remove even more.

Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan is the DA for all communities in Hampshire and Franklin counties and the Worcester County town of Athol.