Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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GPD Will Host Second Annual Gun Buyback this Weekend

This Saturday, Sept. 26, the Guilford Police Department (GPD), in partnership with the Ethan Miller Song Foundation, will host its second annual gun buyback from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., providing anyone—not just Guilford residents—with the chance to anonymously dispose of unwanted firearms.

Organized around the overall concept of gun safety with gun locks made available free of charge at the event, GPD Chief Butch Hyatt said the idea is to give residents a safe alternative to holding onto or selling unsecured or unneeded firearms.

“It’s not just about taking weapons,” Hyatt said.

The first buyback last year took place only a few weeks after the passage of Ethan’s Law, named for Guilford teen Ethan Song who was killed while playing with an unsecured handgun at a friend’s house in 2018.

That law helped close loopholes and put more stringent requirements on the storage of firearms. Ethan’s parents Kristin and Mike Song have become outspoken activists for gun safety and education.

GPD is requiring all weapons be unloaded and transported in clear plastic bags, with ammunition in a separate bag. No identification will be required, and GPD will not ask any questions to those participating in the program.

Mask-wearing and social distancing will be required, according to the GPD.

Hyatt said there are very few opportunities like this for gun owners. If a weapon is unsellable for whatever reason, or if someone is uncomfortable putting his or her firearm on the open market for fear it might be used to hurt people, there aren’t really any other programs like the one GPD is running.

“This is a way that people can anonymously come and get those weapons out of their home,” Hyatt said.

Handguns, shotguns, rifles, and even pellet or compressed air guns will be accepted and people will be compensated with a nominal cash payout depending on the type of weapon. Most long guns are melted down using special techniques and turned into farm equipment, something that Hyatt said has a poetic feel.

“Instead of taking a life, they’re helping give a life,” Hyatt said.

Last year, the GPD received 80 weapons, according to a press release from the department, including more than 40 handguns.

Handguns must be sent to a state facility due to specific statutory requirements, according to Hyatt. The organization that melts the rifles and other long guns down, called Swords into Ploughshares Northeast, will actually be onsite, Hyatt said, demonstrating what it does with weapons that were turned in during previous buybacks.

Hyatt said the buyback is just part of a larger piece of efforts by the department to advocate for safety around firearms.

“We’re sending the message that it’s about responsible gun ownership,” Hyatt said. “That’s the key: responsible. Responsible could mean I don’t want the weapons because I don’t want them, I don’t need them, I want to get rid of them, and I want them destroyed. Or it means I want to come get a lock or a safe so it makes the weapons that I do have safe in my home.”

The Guilford Police Department can be reached at 203-453-8061.


Jesse Williams covers Guilford and Madison for Zip06. Email Jesse at j.williams@shorepublishing.com.

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