Get Rid of Them: Baltimore Gun Buyback Packs a Grieving Crowd

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A gun buyback on Saturday in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood of Baltimore had been planned well in advance of the horrific Newtown, Connecticut, shooting Friday, but organizers said news of the mass shooting helped pack even more conscientious support. All in all, 461 guns were handed off to Baltimore police by hundreds of local residents, according to The Baltimore Sun. Each received a $100 gift card for use at buyback sponsor Klein’s ShopRite supermarkets.

“Many described having had a gun around the home for years and realizing yesterday that someone could use it to hurt their children or grandchildren,” wrote Sun reporter Ian Duncan.

“‘That really motivated me to come out,’ said Gary Barksdale, 30, who was dropping off two rifles with his father.”

The Newtown school shooting is one of the worst mass shootings in history.

Klein’s was inspired to sponsor the buyback after the success of a partner’s similar event in Philadelphia. The Philly team held a golf tournament beforehand to raise money for gift cards (typically, gun buybacks provide citizens with cash or a perk of some sort worth $100-200). Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and the Baltimore Police Department readily agreed to cooperate – from here, the police will haul the unwanted guns and “melt them down,” according to The Sun. Young mentioned how much he hopes pulling these weapons will reduce violent crime in Baltimore, but Duncan underscored the fact that many of the guns given up were shotguns and rifles, which are not typically used to shoot people.

Some heartening factoids: A city-sponsored buyback in 2005 recovered more than 1700 weapons over the course of a week. Baltimore police have collected approximately 2,000 guns in 2012 during arrests.

Other gun buypack events around the country also saw strong action this solemn weekend.

In Oakland and San Francisco, police collected almost 600 weapons. In Brooklyn, a buyback — sponsored by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD — collected 134 guns, including 80 revolvers and 31 semi-automatic pistols.

Dorothy Johnson, 60, told The New York Post she turned in a relative’s .22-caliber pistol after hearing about the school shooting.

“It should inspire everyone. We’ve got to protect our children,” said Johnson.

Learn more about the history of the buyback movement here. Watch the news for Baltimore-based buyback events to come or help coordinate one.



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