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Mayor of Worcester Calls for Statewide Gun Buyback Day as Central Massachusetts Sets Gun Buyback for Anniversary of Sandy Hook Shooting

For Immediate Release: 11/30/2015 9:13 am

Worcester, MA (November 30, 2015) For the fourteenth annual Goods For Guns Day, 16 cities and towns in Central Massachusetts have scheduled their guy buyback day for December 12th, in honor of the victims who were lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, on December 14th, 2012. Mayor Joseph M. Petty is calling on his fellow mayors to join him to make the anniversary of the massacre the yearly, statewide gun buyback day.

"Today I'm asking my fellow mayors to work within their own cities, and with their elected officials and community partners, to join us and honor the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting by making our cities safer and healthier." Mayor Petty said, "The date of this gun buyback effort marks three years since the tragic shooting in Newtown. We remember those victims in a special way, and are dedicating this program in their memory, and to all of those that have been lost in these shocking incidents."

"There have been so many mass shootings: Aurora, Virginia Tech, Charleston, Umpqua, Littleton, Fort Hood and so many more. The list just keeps growing. I can think of no better way to remember this and every other tragedy than by honoring it with a day dedicated to gun safety," said Mayor Petty. "This is not just about getting guns off the streets, it's about making sure that if you have a gun in your home, that it's secured. It's about safer streets and healthier homes and making sure that the violence we saw in Newtown doesn't happen here."

Dr. Michael Hirsh is the medical director for Worcester's Division of Public Health, as well as a pediatric trauma surgeon and longtime gun safety advocate. "This isn't just about crime; it's about health," said Dr. Hirsh. "An unsecured weapon in the home is a public health danger that leads to more frequent homicides, burglaries, lethal domestic violence, accidental shootings and suicide in the home."

"Any additional efforts to remove guns from the streets of our community are a positive step forward," said Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme. "This program is a part of the department's comprehensive, multipronged approach to reduce gun violence. Anytime you remove unwanted guns from the community, you have the potential to save lives."

"Last week officials from the Mayor's office, the WPD and the Worcester Division of Public Health attended Mayor Walsh's Regional Gun Summit in Boston and had many productive discussions about strategies to reduce gun violence in our community," said Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. "One of those discussions surrounded the dangers of real-looking replica guns, which as we've seen in other cities can lead to needless violence. As a result, we'll be including replica guns in this year's buyback program. We will leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of a healthier, safer community."

The yearly Goods for Guns program in Worcester is sponsored by both UMass Memorial Hospital and Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr.'s office. "We use funds from civil forfeitures and drug dealer convictions to fund this program," said DA Early. "One less unsecured gun in a home benefits us all. It removes the possibility of the theft of that gun and the use of it in a crime or accident in the household."

"Hospital emergency rooms across this country have seen all too often the damage gun violence can do to individuals, their families, and their communities," said Eric W. Dickson, MD, president and CEO, UMass Memorial Health Care. "The money and resources spent to support a gun buyback program is much more preferable to the costs of treating theses victims and, most importantly, the cost in human lives lost due to gunshot wounds. I'm proud UMass Memorial, under the leadership and tireless efforts of Dr. Michael Hirsh, continues to play a major role in this program."

The Goods for Guns program has been a gun buyback program for the last fourteen years in Worcester, exchanging firearms for gift cards. Police departments in Worcester, Millbury, Grafton, Leicester, Southbridge, Oxford, Sturbridge, Northbridge and Webster will exchange guns for gift cards of varying amounts; ($25 rifle, $50 pistol, $75 semiautomatic weapon of any kind). Residents of any city or town may drop off their weapons anonymously, in exchange for gift cards. Gun owners are further welcomed to pick up a trigger lock free of charge from the police stations listed above.

The 2014 Good for Guns program produced almost 150 firearms in one day as well as 18 lbs of TNT that was being improperly stored in Leicester. Since the inception of the Goods for Guns program, over 2500 guns have been returned to law enforcement officials in Central Massachusetts.

Using FBI data and media reports, Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization dedicated to reducing gun violence in America, developed an analysis of mass shootings that took place between January 2009 and July 2015. The analysis found that there have been at least 133 mass shootings in the nearly seven-year period.

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