BRIDGEPORT, CT. -- In a measure of what it called the success of its gun buyback program, the Bridgeport Police Department on Saturday had so many takers that it had to turn some away.
According to a report on CtPost.com , 68 numbers had been handed out by 1 p.m., and funds eventually ran out. Those who came later were told they would have to wait for another program.
Still, there were more than 100 guns taken off the street Saturday, police said. And in the pile were five assault rifles and a Tec-9 pistol, according to the CtPost report.
Department spokesman Bill Kaempffer said Monday that more funds are being raised and another buyback is planned.
Saying that battling gun violence is his top priority as Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch added in a statement after the event: “Guns that are purchased as part of this program can never be used to hurt or kill ever again.”
“I strongly believe that this effort has saved lives and has made Bridgeport a safer place for kids and families. If this program saves one life, it is money well spent,” Finch said.
The program is only one facet of the police department’s strategy to reduce violence in the city, it said; it has started daily walking beats in public housing complexes and has opened a new community substation in Trumbull Gardens this month. Trumbull Gardens, a public housing project, was the scene of recent shootings, according to CtPost.com.
This year, the department also started walking beats on East Main Street, Finch said.
During the city’s last buyback program, one of the first weapons collected was an AR-15 assault rifle, the same type of weapon used to kill elementary schools kids and teachers in Newtown, Finch said in his statement.
“These are not hunting guns. These are weapons of war. They are specifically designed to kill and maim other human beings and they have no place on our streets and in the hands of criminals,” said Police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett.
“Every gun that is turned in is a gun that won’t end up on the street in the hands of a criminal or in the hands of a child who could accidentally injure himself or someone else,” added Gaudett. “The police department works hard every day to keep our kids and families safe. This is another tool that helps keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.”
Police also pointed to statistics from the National Center for Injury Prevention. One person is killed in the U.S. by a firearm every 17 minutes, 87 people are killed during an average day, and 609 are killed every week, the center said.
Also, between 2000 and 2010, a total of 335,609 people died from gun violence, the center said.
Since the Bridgeport program’s inception in 2012, close to 1,000 guns have been turned in, according to the police department’s website.
One Bridgeport resident said Saturday that he worried about having guns in his house, according to the police department.
“I have two weapons in the house and I wanted to get rid of them because I have two little kids now,” the man, who identified himself as Kenny, told police. “I wanted to make sure they weren’t in the house where they could accidentally get in contact with them.”
Police said he told them he planned to use the money for a family vacation.
According to Finch’s statement, North End Community leader Waith Mitchell said that he also believes the program keeps the community safer.
“This gets guns off the street and from owners who have guns and don’t want them to fall in the wrong hands,” he was quoted as saying.
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