In an effort to tackle the gun violence that infiltrated Boston’s streets earlier in the year, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced a series of measures to decrease gun activity and abuse, including a regional gun trafficking summit, renewed funding for a summer jobs program and a gun buy-back program.
The gun buy back, entitled Your Piece for Peace, was instituted Monday at 12 p.m. A total of 75 guns have been taken off the street since the program’s start, with 40 guns on Monday and 35 guns on Tuesday, according to a Boston Police Department spokesman.
“This is the first step in a long-term, city-wide mission to prevent violence,” Walsh said in a Monday release. “The illegal trafficking of crime guns is one of the primary threats to the safety of our neighborhoods across this country. In the absence of federal action to close dangerous loopholes that allow criminals and prohibited purchases to have easy access to crime guns, we must take action regionally to confront this problem head on.”
Guns will be accepted at district police stations and designated drop-off sites Monday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., no questions asked. All firearms must be unloaded upon delivered, and ammunition must be delivered in a separate bag.
BPD Commissioner William Evans spoke about how and why the city instated the program at the first Mondays with the Mayor on Monday night in Brighton. He said they are aiming to collect 1,000 guns over the next couple weeks.
“I support taking any gun we can off the street,” he said. “Already this year, we’ve taken 136 guns off the street. We work hard every day to make the neighborhoods safe. Every gun off the street is one less gun that might take an innocent victim.”
Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners’ Action League, said the city’s leaders have good intentions, but gun buy-back programs are not effective tools to fighting crime or preventing accidents.
“Gun buy-back programs are, more or less, a feel-good thing,” he said. “If they were successful at fighting gun crime, then why don’t we have drug buybacks to fight drug crime? It’s just one of those things where people are frustrated, and they’re not exactly sure what to do, so they have a gun buy-back program.”
Wallace said he is most concerned that people will unknowingly sell a collectable gun to the city for less than it is worth, and that the “no questions” policy will make gun-related crime harder to solve.
“If somebody is turning in a gun that might have been used in a crime, and this is completely done through an anonymous situation, where there’s no tracing, there’s no capability of actually finding out who that person who is turned in the gun,” he said. “It might have been used in a crime, and then it ends up being destroyed and the evidence is gone.”
Several residents said the new gun buy-back program is a significant step for Walsh and BPD to keep gun violence numbers down in the city.
Seth Benzell, 23, of Allston, said he is concerned with the economic implications of the buy back program on the city.
“In an extreme case, we’re talking about thousands and thousands of guns being brought into the city and the administration committing to buy them,” he said. “We’re talking about large cash outlays to no end. All we’re doing is financing a program to bring guns from Point A to Point B and it could hypothetically be very expensive if the price is high enough.”
Karen Hernandez, 29, of Fenway, said she used to live in Colombia, and the gun buy-back programs installed there were extremely successful in decreasing gun violence.
“Anything to keep guns off the street is awesome,” she said. “Gun violence predominantly happens in lower class neighborhoods. Sometimes, the people are using guns in order to get money to pay bills. So maybe those are the people that will be giving their guns back because they’re the ones that need the most money.”
Ethan Markham, 24, of Brighton, said any program that can be instated to bring down gun violence in the city and the state is worthwhile.
“I see no good reason that people should be carrying around guns at all,” he said. “I don’t think anyone needs guns. If people didn’t have guns, no one would be shooting each other, and no one would need them.”