Westborough to participate in Worcester gun ‘buy-back” program
By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – In September, Westborough Police Chief Alan Gordon was invited by Ilyse Levine-Kanji to attend a seminar on preventing gun violence at the Congregation B’Nai Shalom in Westborough. One of the guest speakers that evening was Dr. Michael Hirsh, the Worcester acting director of public safety, who explained how the city had run a successful gun “buy-back” program for several years.
The program, is essence, gives gun owners gift cards to local merchants in exchange for their weapons. Gordon decided to see if it would be possible for Westborough to “piggyback” onto the Worcester program.
“Deputy Police Chief Ed McGinn, who runs it there, was very receptive,” Gordon said.
As a result, Westborough residents who longer wish to hold onto their operable weapons will be able to participate in the Worcester program, which will be held this year on Saturday, Dec. 14, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Worcester Police Department headquarters, located at 9-11 Lincoln Square, Worcester. This may be done anonymously; names, addresses, and gun registrations will not be required.
This year’s program was scheduled, officials said, to tie into the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adult staff members died after being shot by a 20-year-old man who had entered the school.
For Levine-Kanji, a mother of two who is also the chair of the Westborough School Committee, the issue of gun violence has become one that is deeply personal to her. Her grandfather, a respected physician who had escaped Nazi Germany as a young man, was killed by two gunmen in 1977. And in another act of violence her boss and mentor and a client were killed by a gunman in San Francisco in 1993. (To read, in her own words, how those tragedies affected her, visit http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2012/12/one-womans-lifetime-losses-from-gun-violence.)
“Everyone agreed that the shooting in Newtown was tragic. However, people have widely different ideas about how to prevent loss of innocent lives in the future,” Levine- Kanji said. “To me, the appeal of a gun buy-back (or take-back) program is it’s an idea that everyone should be able to support since people voluntarily decide whether they would like to participate. If you have a gun in your home that you no longer want, this program provides an incentive for disposing of the weapon. If you prefer to keep the guns in your home, that is also your choice.”
When bringing guns to the Worcester Police Department the day of buy-back, the gun owner must drive directly there with the unloaded gun wrapped in a bag that is placed on the front seat of the car. In return, they will receive a gift card to a local merchant, ranging from $25-$75, depending on the type of gun.
Non-operable guns, live ammunition, and firearm accessories will also be accepted. (Gift cards will not be issued for those items.)
Westborough residents can also call the Westborough Police Department at any time (508-366-3060) to have an officer come to their home to pick up the weapon, Gordon said. Gift cards are not offered for this service; it is a courtesy offered by the department.
The two police departments are also offering free trigger locks for those who wish to keep their weapons.
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