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Crime & Justiceby Mark Reutter1:50 pmDec 12, 20120

Latest gun buyback program attracts politicians

Above: Among the City Council members collected at today’s gun buyback press conference: Rochelle “Rikki” Spector, Sharon Green Middleton, Mary Pat Clarke, Jack Young and Nick Mosby.

So many politicians crammed into the City Hall Rotunda today to lend their support to the latest gun buyback program that The Brew, absent a wide-angle lens, was unable to photograph them all.

In return for a $100 gift certificate to Klein’s ShopRite, citizens were asked to surrender their firearms this Saturday, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., at the Coldstream Homestead Montebello Community headquarters, located on the campus of City College High School.

Officers from the police department will be on hand to collect the firearms, while representatives from ShopRite and UpLift Solutions will distribute the $100 gift certificates.

Dubbed “Goods for Guns,” each firearm surrendered will equal one gift certificate, which can be used at Klein’s ShopRite, which conveniently opened a new store on Perring Parkway earlier this year.

Led by City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, eight City Council members and Comptroller Joan M. Pratt queued up before the TV cameras, along with members of the Klein family and Jeff Brown of UpLift Solutions.

“This new partnership between my office and Klein’s ShopRite is a great example of a public-private partnership helping to strengthen the community,” Young said in prepared remarks.

Do Gun Buybacks Decrease Crime?

The effectiveness of gun buyback programs is a contentious issue. According to Indypendent Reader, the first buyback in Baltimore was held by the police department in 1974 and netted more than 13,000 guns.

There have been numerous programs since then, sponsored by the police department, Baltimore Housing Authority, churches and, occasionally, private individuals.

Programs such as Gifts for Guns, Food for Guns and Gas for Guns have been tried in other cities, often in partnership with corporate sponsors.

Critics say the guns surrendered are old, defective and not likely to be used in a crime. They further contend that criminals are not likely to participate in the program, especially one involving law enforcement officers, even on a “no questions asked” basis.

Debating the effectiveness of buybacks was not an item on today’s program.

Marshall Klein, director of operations at Klein’s ShopRite, took to the podium and said the buyback program “creates a tremendous opportunity to help the communities that we are committed to,” while “violence in our communities makes any positive strides more challenging.”

In a press release announcing Saturday’s event, the supermarket chain declared, “NO GUN DEALERS PLEASE.”

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