For Immediate Release: 11/29/2016 10:14 am
Worcester, MA (November 29, 2016) - For the fifteenth annual Goods For Guns Day, 16 cities and towns in Central Massachusetts have agreed to participate in this year's program, December 10th from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM. Mayor Joseph M. Petty is once again calling on his fellow mayors to join him to make the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting the date of a yearly, statewide gun buyback day.
"Today I am again asking my fellow mayors to work within their own cities, and with their District Attorney's and healthcare providers, to join us and honor the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting by making our cities safer and healthier." Mayor Petty said, "We remember the victims of the Newtown shooting by dedicating this program every year in their memory."
"Thirty-three thousand lives were lost to gun violence last year, but the vast majority of those deaths, around twenty-two thousand, are suicides" 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 the violence we saw in Newtown never happens here."
Dr. Michael Hirsh is the medical director for Worcester's Division of Public Health, as well as a pediatric trauma surgeon at the UMass Memorial Children's Medical Center and longtime gun safety advocate.
"This program is an opportunity, for families with guns in their households, to either dispose of them or to get a trigger lock to secure them," said Dr. Hirsh. "This will ultimately lower the number of suicides, lethal domestic violence events, accidental shootings and burglarized firearms that end up in criminal hands."
The yearly Goods for Guns program in Worcester is sponsored by both UMass Memorial Medical Center and Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr.'s office.
"Our goal is, and always has been, getting unwanted and unsecured guns out of the house," Mr. Early said. "This has benefits on so many levels. Reducing accidents and tragedies in Worcester County benefits us all."
"As the Level One Trauma center for central Massachusetts, our caregivers are all too familiar with what can happen when there is an unsecured firearm in the home," said Eric Dickson, MD, president and CEO, UMass Memorial Health Care and an emergency department physician. "This buyback program has undoubtedly saved lives in our region and is a powerful instrument for educating the community on the importance of responsible gun ownership."
"Unsecured weapons are a risk both to public health and public safety. Most gun crimes are committed using illegally-obtained firearms, which makes it an urgent priority to get any unsecured guns out of our homes before they fall into the wrong hands," said City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr." Worcester is proud to lead the way in this effort to make our communities safer."
This year's buy back added the cities of Fitchburg, Leominster and Dudley. Fitchburg Mayor Stephen L. DiNatale said, "The City of Fitchburg is proud to be participating in a regional effort to help community members place unwanted firearms in the hands of our local law enforcement. Similar to education, Goods for Guns is an excellent way to reduce the likelihood of theft, misuse, or accidents with improperly stored firearms."
Police departments in Worcester, Millbury, Grafton, Leicester, Southbridge, Oxford, Northbridge, Webster , Dudley, Charlton, Spencer, Leominster, Barre and Fitchburg, will exchange guns for gift cards of varying amounts on December 10th; ($25 rifle or replica guns, $50 pistol, $75 semiautomatic weapon of any kind). Residents are instructed to contact their local police departments for local buyback hours.
Residents of ANY city or town may drop off their weapons anonymously at ANY PARTICIPATING police station, 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. This year's buyback will also be accepting realistic toy guns and replicas.
Since the inception of the Goods for Guns program in 2002, almost 3,000 guns have been returned to law enforcement officials in Central Massachusetts. Last year's program took 340 weapons off the street and out of the home in just one day.
The full list of cities and towns participating is as follows: Worcester, Westboro, Northborough, Southbridge, Leicester, Leominster, Barre, Fitchburg, Oxford, Dudley, Millbury, Grafton, Charlton, Spencer, Northbridge and Webster.