12/28/2012 - Bridgeport's Gun Buyback Continues - 108 guns turned in today; Food Bazaar Donates $30K in gift certificates

BRIDGEPORT, CT (December 28, 2012) – Executives from Brooklyn, N.Y-based BOGOPA Service Corp., parent company of Food Bazaar grocery stores today donated $30,000 in store gift cards to the City’s gun buyback effort. Edward K. Suh, BOGOPA General Counsel and Justin Shon, Director of Strategy and Planning presented the gift cards to Mayor Bill Finch and Police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr. on Friday afternoon.

“We are extremely appreciative of Food Bazaar’s generosity,” said Mayor Finch. “They are a great community partner, and these gift cards will be an extra incentive to people who are contemplating turning in their firearms.”

Last week, Mayor Bill Finch and Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph Gaudett kicked off the largest gun buyback program in the City’s history. On opening day, Saturday, December 23, Bridgeport Police recovered 104 weapons, paying out a total of $13,400.

The program resumed today (Fri. Dec. 28). Police recovered 108 guns as of 6 p.m., paying out a total of $9,375. The two-day total: 212 guns and $22,775 in payout.

The buyback continues on Sat. Dec. 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Police Department’s Community Services Division, 1395 Sylvan Avenue. It will continue every Saturday in January from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as needed.

Nearly $100,000 has been raised so far from the City, the Bridgeport Housing Authority, the City Council and numerous private sector donors – both individuals and business owners – to fund the program.

“We’re very encouraged by the turnout and look forward to seeing more guns turned in for cash and taken off our streets,” said Mayor Bill Finch, a longtime advocate of stricter gun laws and a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “Thanks to the generosity of our donors who stepped up for this cause, we’re able to continue hosting gun buyback events this weekend and throughout January. I am urging residents with guns in their homes to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr., pledged to keep the buyback going as long as funds are available, stating, “Every gun that is turned in and destroyed is a gun that can’t end up on the street in the hands of a criminal or in the hands of a young person who could injure himself or someone else.”

Police will offer up to $200 value for a working handgun. People turning in rifles will receive $75. A weapon determined to be an assault-type rifle will be eligible for a higher rate of remuneration.

The department has a “no questions asked” policy that will allow people to turn in weapons anonymously without fear of being prosecuted for illegal gun possession. BB guns and non-working guns will be accepted but will not be eligible to receive payment. Gun dealers are not eligible to participate.

The gun buyback fund is being administered by RYASAP, and Mayor Finch urged members of the community to consider making a tax deductible donation to the fund so the gun buyback can continue. “Our goal is to take hundreds of guns off the street,” he said.  Anyone wishing to donate can send a check to RYASAP Gun Buyback Fund, 2470 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport CT 06605.

In addition to the City of Bridgeport, the City Council, and the Bridgeport Housing Authority, the following individuals and businesses have made significant donations to the gun buyback fund including: Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG); Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder; Stratton Faxon; People’s Bank; Housing Authority; Joseph Luciano; Pullman and Comley; Board of Education; Bridgeport Hospital; St. Vincent’s Medical Center; Aquarion; Berchem, Moses & Devlin; Bridgeport Regional Business Council; Dominion Energy; Bismarck Construction; Cigna.

People turning in weapons must follow a precise protocol.

1.                   Firearms MUST be delivered unloaded;

2.                   Firearms MUST be put in a clear plastic bag and put into another container (gym bag, backpack, etc);

3.                   If depositing ammunition in addition to a firearm, ammunition must be delivered in  separate bag;

4.                   If transporting the firearm by car, the firearm must be transported in the trunk of the car;

5.                   After the firearm is screened by officers and determined to be a working firearm, a turn-in value will be determined;

6.                   Non-operational guns, antiques firearms, BB guns and holsters will be accepted but do not qualify for cash payout.

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Executive from Brooklyn, N.Y.-based BOGOPA Service Corp., parent company of Food Bazaar grocery stores, present Mayor Bill Finch and Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr., with $30,000 in grocery store gift cards to the City of Bridgeport’s gun buyback program.

From left, Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr., Justin Shon, Director, Strategy and Planning, BOGOPA Service Corp., Mayor Bill Finch, and Edward K. Suh, General Counsel, BOGOPA Service Corp.