Gun buyback program can help keep our families safe

On July 25, 2014, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

mayor_webBy Joseph A. Curtatone

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)

The Massachusetts House of Representatives took an important step this month in passing a commonsense gun control bill that fairly addresses all the facets of this critical issue. Massachusetts police chiefs—who already have discretion over licenses to carry firearms—will be able to deny an application for a firearm identification card if the applicant is deemed a safety risk; licensed gun dealers will be able to obtain a CORI check when hiring employees; and the state would create an online portal for private gun sales. Meanwhile, school districts would be required to develop plans to address students’ mental health needs and have a school resource officer for security purposes, and the State Police would have a new criminal firearms and trafficking unit.

The Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) has moved from opposed to neutral on the bill, with GOAL’s executive director stating that “we believe this is a victory for the 2nd Amendment in Massachusetts.” I’m proud that the House under the leadership of Speaker DeLeo was able to create a bipartisan bill and hope that the conference committee puts forward a bill that includes these provisions, but there remains the problem of the guns that are already out there—and who can get their hands on them.

That’s why on Saturday, the Somerville Police and Middlesex Sheriff’s Office will hold a “Food For Guns” firearm buyback program this Saturday, where Somerville residents can trade in unwanted firearms and ammunition for grocery gift certificates—no questions asked. If you turn in a firearm at the event and do not have a license, you will not be prosecuted. Bring your unloaded firearms—and transport it unloaded in the trunk of your vehicle—to the rear of the Public Safety Building between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., and any firearms turned in will be logged by the Sherriff’s Office and sent out for destruction.

The data is clear—removing guns from a home keeps our families and residents safe. Having a gun in a home significantly increases the risk of someone in that home committing suicide, according to a review of several studies by University of California, San Francisco researchers. More than half of deaths from suicides are firearm-related and more than three-quarters of suicides occur in the victim’s home. That same review also found evidence, to a lesser degree than for suicides, of increased risk of being murdered when guns are present in a person’s home.

This is also a domestic violence issue. Women living in homes with at least one gun were more than three times more likely to be killed in their homes, according to a fact sheet on intimate partner violence and firearms by Johns Hopkins University. That fact sheet also notes that family and intimate assaults with firearms are 12 times more likely to result in death than non-firearm assaults. The University of California study review states that women who live in a home with guns have a higher risk of dying in a murder, and that “empirical evidence suggests that most homicide victims know their assailant, which suggests an interpersonal dispute within the household or other domestic violence and not an unknown intruder.”

These statistics are not an indictment of responsible gun owners. Firearms that are stored loaded or unlocked are naturally more likely to be used in a suicide and adolescent suicide victims often use an unlocked firearm in the home. Responsible gun owners keep their firearms locked and unloaded. Nor do these statistics mean that someone with a gun in their home is more prone to violence or self-harm. Rather, it’s a question of immediacy and availability. A troubled person in an emotional, tense situation where a gun is readily accessible could act on a rash impulse that, without the gun there, would not have to end in death, the University of California researchers point out.

Mass shootings in Newtown, Aurora and elsewhere sparked the debate that has led to the House bill, but sensible and fair gun laws are about more than mass shootings. In the past seven years, more than 900 people have died in mass shootings—that accounts for less than 1 percent of all gun-related homicides. The terrible tragedies in Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek and, most recently, Santa Barbara bring attention to the issue of gun control, but every day 33 Americans are killed, mostly with handguns. Last June, the number of shooting victims in Boston rose to more than one per day. That was the most it had been since the turbulent years of 1990-1995. Gun buyback programs alone won’t solve the problem, but they are an important piece of a comprehensive approach, along with the steps put forth in the House bill.

If you have unwanted firearms or ammunition in your home, whether you are licensed or not, please bring them to the Public Safety Building this Saturday and help us prevent another tragedy before it occurs.

The “Food For Guns” Gun Buyback program will be held on Saturday, August 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the rear of the Somerville Public Safety Building, 220 Washington St. Any and all hand guns, rifles, shotguns, BB guns and air guns, working or non working, antique or modern, registered or not and ammunition will be accepted. Residents are asked to bring the unloaded firearm, or any ammunition, transported in the trunk of their vehicle in a clear sealed plastic bag or box. No questions will be asked and no identification is required. Unlicensed residents who turn in weapons will not be prosecuted for the crime of unlawful possession of a weapon.


10 Responses to “Gun buyback program can help keep our families safe”

  1. Elaine says:

    I agree with Joe that there are some things in this bill that lawful gun owners can support, but making FID cards (hunting rifles – NOT handguns) “MAY ISSUE” rather than the current “SHALL ISSUE” is useless/counter-productive. The only good news I see coming from making FID’s may issue (chief discretion) is the state has for years managed to stave off legal 2a challenges by saying “We follow the 2nd amendment with FIDs as they’re shall issue!” – now they can’t, so someone will get denied – and while it will take years and millions of taxpayers $$’s to go thru the courts the state will lose and maybe all the MAY ISSUE will get tossed out as it should.

    A little primer of the current gun laws… as you do need a law degree to understand some of the MA gun restrictions/laws today….

    SHALL ISSUE – follows the 2nd amendment and protects the Right to Keep and Bare Arms (RKBA). If you are not a prohibited person (felons, misdemeanors > 2 years, druggie/drunk, etc.) you will be allowed to own a gun. In this state, FIDs today are SHALL ISSUE – this gun bill would change that to MAY ISSUE. LTCs are MAY ISSUE today and a whole world of pain which now FIDs will become.

    MAY ISSUE – Police chief’s discretion – he doesn’t like the way you dress, look, smell or whatever he can deny you. The idea is your police chief “knows” you – he is in the community and has a feel if you’re a good person. Now we all know that here in Somerville that we go through chiefs pretty quickly, so there is never a chance to meet the chief (or for him to ever know anyone) as they move on before they even know where the restrooms in the station are.

    To give folks a better idea of what applying for a LTC (and now FID) is like: you’re a law abiding citizen (never even have a parking ticket or passed gas in the wrong direction) and decide you want to go hunting, teach your kids to hunt/shoot and handle firearms safely, etc. — be prepared to go thru a world of pain. Today to get a LTC (License to Carry – All Lawful Purposes) and now an FID (Firearms ID) you need – after you do the state required firearms/hunting classe(es) – to go hat in hand, write justifications / references and hope that the chief decides you’re “worthy” of exercising your 2nd amendment rights. While I believe in proper training and safety training… the idea of the chief having discretion is bothersome. Probably for him/her as well as it puts the responsibility to deny you your rights on him/her where it really should not be.

    Basically you have to hope that the chief is in a good mood that day as it is his discretion to allow you to exercise your constitutionally protected right (2nd amendment). Somerville – thankfully – is not bad as we’ve had reasonable chiefs here, but there are cities and towns where the chief just won’t ever hand out a LTC (and now it will be the same for FIDs) and that just isn’t right. There are people today who abuse their power and chiefs are not immune to having a few – and they are out there.

    We all know that putting more gun laws/restrictions in only restricts lawful gun owners and makes life more painful for them. Criminals don’t follow the law today — they’re not going to follow any new laws/restrictions. They never have and they never will. The Attorney Generals also need to start prosecuting criminals for violating the gun laws and not letting them plead out of those as they do today.

    Also, do you know….in this state – the only state in the nation – men or women who don’t want to get raped/mugged can’t even legally pepper spray.

    Lastly, I’m all for gun buybacks if I thought they worked. They don’t — gangbangers won’t be handing in their guns – maybe some family member whose husband/father/grandfather/wife/mother/grandmother who was a legal owner died and the kids are trying to figure out a way to get rid of the guns will hand some in Saturday. But — it would be easier and less costly for the mayor to publicize that they if they cannot legally sell the guns (they’re not licensed and / or don’t know how) then they can call the police today and they can come pick them up.

    Bottom line is gun restrictions on law-abiding citizens do not work. They have never worked – since 1998 when MA put in some of the most onerous restrictions on guns – gun crime has increased 35% while the population of gun owners has dropped dramatically (from ~ 1.5 million to 300K today).

    Want to reduce gun crime? Don’t be afraid to deal with the real issues (the criminals) and go into the hot areas with a 24 x 7 police presence and give criminals another avenue out of the selling drugs and being a thug life.

  2. ritepride says:

    “Elaine” Excellent blog, informative and to the point. Very few criminals caught with unlawful possession of a gun have ever done the mandatory sentence. There should not be any waivers on this law. the sentence should be served and should have added to it…. – – years and FIVE days. so the sentence is served in full. Second all the criminals who have no problem making the high bails. The high bails should be reported to the IRS so checks of unreported income can be done on these individuals.

  3. Johhnie Jazz says:

    These jokers want to add more restrictions!?!?! LOL.Hey, libs, keep counting on the government to take care of you all from craddle to grave. How’s that working out lately for you? I am surprised the mayor didn’t take the opportunity to really rumpkiss the progressives here. He threw them just a smooch rather than the full slobbering he usually does. I guess the Market Basket article of his will have to suffice.

    I wonder what these people in PA would be doing if the good doctor wasn’t packing? This doc had the right idea “It’s better to be judged by six than carried by 6!”.

    But Yeadon Police Chief Donald Molineux said that “without a doubt, I believe the doctor saved lives.”

    “Without that firearm, this guy (the patient) could have went out in the hallway and just walked down the offices until he ran out of ammunition,” the chief said.

    But in MA it’s NO ONE CAN PROTECT THEMSELVES! I got to get to get out of there. The nuts are in charge of the asylum now.

  4. A. Moore says:

    I was in a courtroom in Dedham where the police had chased 2 car thieves and had pulled guns on the cops. Judge said court appearance fee and times served. Boy are we tough on them.

  5. Elaine says:

    A. Moore, exactly don’t prosecute the gun criminals, but let’s make sure we’re tough on the poor SOB who just wants to just teach his kid how to shoot a .22. And we wonder why we have gun crime. How about we enforce the laws we have NOW and then maybe ratchet things back a bit like Detroit has done to get some control of gun crime.

    A man and woman should still have the right to protect themselves, right? Right?!?!

  6. PixiePocahontas says:

    This is just another example of how they keep eroding our constitutional rights, in this case, “a right to bear arms”. If you look at enough articles and cases you can draw this conclusion. Also evident, we have entered another chapter of police state, controlling innocent peoples lives who commit no crimes.

    What are they doing to combat the black market sales of weapons? They use these tragic events to strip away citizens rights to bear arms. Some fear worse events to come, like a revolution- remember how they dismantled occupy Wallstreet? The corporations hired mercenaries to guard all their stolen money and drive out unified protestors because they were viewed as a threat to their mission – impoverishing millions and forcing slave labor, civil war, continual unrest. Aren’t these the same events other countries have faced under fascist regimes?

    Jazz- why don’t hospitals have metal detectors as courthouses? I believe schools and companies should adopt the same policies. Maybe the perpetrators would be caught before other lives are lost.

    The doctor must have a license to carry, most do. I am surprised at the outcome. In Mass, it may have been a different turnout with the doctor facing jail time or his right to carry lost.

    Elaine, you are right about the pepper spray. Trust me, if I had the opportunity to use it, I would not miss my target.

    The reason provided, is the assailant can use it on the victim. I disagree entirely. But women should take a self defense class and learn clever techniques to defend and flee threatening situations. If anything, it will give them more confidence to fight back.

  7. I'm in says:

    this is great. I will turn in my gun, and use my gift card to buy some organic tomatoes. Next time I get mugged, I show the guy the tomatoes and I bet he backs off. If someone enters my home in the night, I will throw the tomatoes at him. “Unwanted Firearms”–Oxymoron. as stated above, perhaps if the courts would seriously punish the crooks, I wouldn’t feel the need for protection

  8. Green Banana says:

    Guns don’t kill. Organic tomatoes kill! I think some FOX News anchor said it. Keep up the fight, Ville NRA branch.

  9. Pet Peave says:

    Elaine…Right On ! ..ritepride..unreported income….look in all of the GF,s section 8 apartments or moms freezer or just any Enabling family / friends home and sheds. Pixie Pocahontas Right ON ! I”M In…LOVE IT! we needed a good laugh…thnx.

  10. Pet Peave says:

    I wonder how many firearms the mayor owns…hmmm all legal? what about the millitary in this country… how many guns are they allowing these kids who get through boot camp to bring/smuggle home since they know This is their only way to get a gun/pistol because they would NOT pass by legal means with their past bad history with the laws.

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