WEB EXTRA: New Bedford Gun Buyback

From the Bristol County District Attorney's office:

New Bedford, Massachusetts- The New Bedford Police Department, New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang, Bristol County District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter, and the Inter-Church Council announced today a “New Bedford Gun Safety Exchange” in an effort to prevent gun violence and accidental shootings in the city of New Bedford.

On Sunday, October 24th from 1:00pm to 4:00pm, firearms, weaponry, and ammunition will be accepted at the following “safe haven” locations:

 

·         Grace Episcopal Church, located at 422 County Street (intersection of County & School)

·         Potter's House Church, 2277 Purchase Street (former Gold Dragon Restaurant)

·         Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. James Catholic Church, 233 County Street

(Use the church rectory, accessible through the parking lot behind the church on Fair Street)

·         St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 884 Kempton Street (intersection of Kempton & Rockdale)

Each person who turns in a functional handgun (revolver or pistol) will receive gift cards in the amount of $100, as well as a gift certificate valid for a large pizza at Domino's Pizza courtesy of owner Nelson Hockert-Lotz. Each person who turns in a functional rifle or shotgun will receive gift cards in the amount of $75. Non-functional, rusted, or inoperable guns will receive gift cards in the amount of $50. Ammunition or any other weaponry will be accepted for proper disposal.

No one who turns in a weapon will be required to give their name. During the exchange, police will also be on call at the number below to travel to the homes of individuals who wish to turn in a firearm but are uncomfortable or unable to transport it to the exchange locations.

Church officials will accept firearms at each exchange location, and a police officer will be stationed at each site to ensure its safety and security. Prior to exchanging a firearm, participants are asked to notify the New Bedford Police Department at (508) 991-6350 to provide them with the approximate time of transport and the type of vehicle that will be used for transport. This important step will protect the participant from prosecution for illegal transportation of a firearm. All firearms must be transported in the trunk of the vehicle and must arrive to the exchange location unloaded. Upon arriving at the church, participants should park and notify the police officer on duty, who will carry the firearm from the trunk into the church.

Local law enforcement and the clergy urge those who possess illegal firearms and those who no longer have a use for their legal firearms to seize this unique opportunity to turn in their weapons, without fear of arrest or prosecution. Although the event is occurring in New Bedford, residents from throughout the surrounding area are encouraged to also take part in the gun safety exchange program. The event is part of a continuous partnership between local elected officials, police, and the faith community to make New Bedford a safer city.

“Illegal guns are the weapons of mass destruction in our cities,” said Mayor Lang. “We must take them off the streets and out of our homes. Every citizen will be safer as each gun is turned in to the churches.”

District Attorney Sutter said the event is worthwhile because it not only encourages those with illegal guns to turn them over without consequence, but also takes away any chance that unused legal guns could be stolen from a home or business, and then used to injure someone. “Our office's mission is not just about incarceration. It's about prevention. And, what better way to prevent gun violence than to have people turn in their illegal or unwanted firearms,” District Attorney Sutter said.

Police Chief Ron Teachman encourages area residents who do not have a legitimate use for their guns to call the police and schedule the exchange. “If you have a gun in your home that you are not using for self-protection, hunting or sport, please turn it in to one of the churches, and encourage your family members to do the same.”

“The Faith Community has worked hard in cooperation with the City to raise awareness in combating violence to make our community safer,” said Rev. David Lima, executive director of the Inter-Church Council. “We encourage people to bring in their guns that aren't being used, bought long ago and forgotten, before they fall into the wrong hands.  We especially reach out to the parent, friend or loved one who knows someone who has an illegal gun.  This is a no questions asked, amnesty gun turn in- protect your loved one, protect yourselves.

“Unsecured guns pose a risk to the community. So please, if you have a gun you don't want, or that is unsecured, turn it in, or lock it up. Your kids, your neighbors, your community depend on every citizen's commitment to safe gun ownership.” said Nelson Hockert-Lotz, owner of Dominos Pizza. “Furthermore, if a young person you know has acquired an illegal weapon, this amnesty allows a unique opportunity to come clean and dispose of the weapon legally and responsibly.”

Additionally, to encourage legal gun owners to practice safe ownership, gun locks will be available at each exchange site. While gift cards will be given to those who turn in a working firearm, we encourage area residents to turn in replica guns, pellet guns, air guns, or any other weapon. Area residents who have questions about the gun safety exchange are encouraged to call Rev. David Lima at (508) 951-4347.