12/21/2012 - Mayor Finch kicks off largest gun buyback program in City’s history

$100,000 raised from Bridgeport community to fund program

BRIDGEPORT, CT (December 21, 2012) –  Law enforcement, business leaders and community members joined Mayor Bill Finch today, as he announced the largest gun buyback program in the City’s history. 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, which begins tomorrow (Sat. Dec. 22) at 10 a.m.

“Following last week’s tragedy, it has become a national priority to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals,” said Mayor Bill Finch, a longtime advocate of stricter gun laws and a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “Chief Gaudett and I are encouraging City residents to turn in their guns so they don’t fall into the wrong person’s hands.”

During Friday’s press conference, Mayor Finch recognized Black Rock resident Joseph Luciano, who called the Mayor as the events were unfolding in Newtown, suggesting another gun buyback and made a significant donation to the effort.

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.”

The buyback will open Saturday at 10 a.m., at the Police Department’s Community Services Division, 1395 Sylvan Avenue. Saturday’s event will run until 6 p.m.  The buyback will continue on Friday, Dec. 28 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and every Saturday in January 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as needed.

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. Local grocers Food Bazaar and Compare Foods are offering gift cards as incentives as well, in the hopes that more people will turn in guns during this latest buyback program.

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.  Members of the public who wish 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. Also providing gift card incentives are two local grocers: Food Bazaar and Compare Foods.

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 gift card will be given;

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