Boston launches gun buyback program

The Boston Police Department is urging residents to turn in their guns in exchange for a $200 Visa gift card as part of a reinstated citywide gun buyback program.

The program, called “Your Piece for Peace,” started Monday and is a joint effort between Police Commissioner William B. Evans and Mayor Martin J. Walsh as a method to combat gun violence in the city, the Boston Globe reported. It is funded by private donors, companies, organizations including the Boston Police Athletic League, the Boston Police Runners Club, and the City of Boston Credit Union. Donations are ongoing, but the program will continue until it reaches its current $100,000 budget.

“What you see before you today is that our community is united. And we are united with them, in the goal of making our neighborhoods, our homes, and our children safe,” Walsh said in a public statement Monday.

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Walsh first announced the program’s revival in February, just days after a 14-year-old boy from Mattapan killed his nine-year-old brother in an alleged accidental shooting. Police have seized at least 56 illegal firearms in Boston and 82 firearm related arrests since the start of the year, according to the Boston Police Department.

Anyone wanting to participate should deliver the gun in a sealed clear bag. The gun should also be unloaded, according to the program’s rules. The person dropping off the gun will not be prosecuted for illegal possession of that gun. However, they’re not protected from facing the legal system if the gun is found to be connected to to a crime.

The program has been criticized by firearm advocates who argue there’s no way to trace where the firearms came from.

“We kind of laugh at the concept of gun buyback when they didn’t sell them in the first place,” Jim Wallace, executive director of Gun Owners’ Action League of Massachusetts, told MSNBC after the program was announced in February. “If gun buybacks were supposedly effective, then why don’t we have drug buybacks?”

Research seems to support Wallace’s view. Previous studies suggest that gun buyback programs are largely ineffective in lowering gun violence, the Boston Globe reported.

Criminologists have found that the buybacks have no impact on gun crime or gun-related injuries and that the programs do not target the guns most likely to be used in violence.

Details about the program were available on the Boston Police Department’s website Friday afternoon, but were taken down in the evening, the Boston Globe reported. There is currently no information available on the department’s website. The Boston Globe has a list of buyback locations around the city.