05/16/2013 // Hartford, CT, USA // cttriallawyers // Neil Ferstand // (press release)
The city’s three trauma centers, law enforcement and now the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association are urging gun owners to hand over their unwanted firearms in exchange for grocery money.
The latest event for the growing Capitol Region Gun Buy-Back program is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Community Renewal Team headquarters, 555 Windsor St. Stop & Shop gift cards will be the currency: $150 for an assault rifle, $75 for a handgun and $25 for a shotgun or rifle.
Ammunition and inoperable firearms can also be anonymously turned in but aren’t eligible for a reward, police said. Every gun received Saturday will be destroyed unless forensic testing indicates that one was used in a crime.
The program, in its fifth year, began with a push from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford Hospital and St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, where physicians viewed the deaths from accidental shootings, youth suicide and street gunfire as a public health crisis. Guns not safely stored are ending up in the wrong hands, they said.
In recent months, “maybe because of the nature of the times we’re in,” said Nancy Mulroy, a Hartford police spokeswoman, support for the buy-back program has “grown exponentially.”
The broad coalition includes the Connecticut Emergency Nurses Association, Injury Free Coalition for Kids, Connecticut Public Health Association, the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Hartford’s Hope Street Ministries.
Two more gun buy-backs are planned for August and December. CTTransit has committed to advertising the events on its buses, Mulroy said Monday, and an advertising company has also donated its services. A billboard promoting the program has been seen on I-91.
Michael Walsh, president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association, said some members became involved in gun buy-back initiatives in New London and Bridgeport after the Newtown school shooting on Dec. 14.
The group is donating $10,000 to help fund Saturday’s event. That extra money, Mulroy said, allowed the coalition to raise the gift card amount for assault rifles from $75 to $150.
“This was a good cause for us to get behind,” said Walsh, a personal injury lawyer in West Hartford.
On Dec. 1, the most recent Hartford gun buy-back, people gave up 181 working firearms, including 148 handguns, police said. A woman also brought in a World War II-era German assault rifle, which the department’s gun experts believed was worth up to $40,000. (They advised her to sell it.)
“Just a rare kind of find, but no doubt a dangerous weapon in the hands of the wrong person,” Deputy Police Chief Joseph Buyak said Monday. “A little bit of gun oil would have made it workable.”
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