BRIDGEPORT -- The gun buyback program that starts at 10 a.m. Saturday is not a one-shot deal, officials said at a press conference.
Police will offer up to $200 value for a working handgun. People turning in rifles will receive $75. A weapon determined to be an assault-type rifle will be eligible for a higher amount.
More than $100,000 has been collected over the past several days from power companies, law firms, city agencies and even individual members of the public, the mayor said, and as the program continues that fund could be doubled.
With high-powered weapons and two very realistic fakes on a table before him, Finch called for the assault weapon ban to be renewed, the gun show loophole to be closed and for every handgun in Connecticut to be registered.
"These weapons have no place in a civilized society,'' he said. "Why do we accept 100 people being shot (in Bridgeport) every year?'' He supported hunters' rights as a state legislator, Finch said. "But this has nothing to do with hunting. These are weapons of war and we need to get them off the streets.''
There is a limited amnesty for people turning in guns, Chief Joseph Gaudett said. Although no one will be asked for an ID, if someone brings a gun but then decides not to turn it in, he won't be allowed to leave with it if he can't produce a valid registration for the weapon, the police chief said.
All of the weapons turned in will be examined by the Bridgeport police ballistics expert to determine if they may have been used in a crime, Gaudett said. The rest will be melted down or otherwise destoyed, he said. "We're talking about creating jewelry from them, and then selling the jewelry to raise more money to buy back guns.''
Anyone turning in a gun should bring it to the Bridgeport Police Community Services Division at 1395 Sylvan Ave., not to police headquarters on Congress Street, the chief said. Guns must be unloaded, in a plastic bag inside another bag, and any ammunition being turned in should be in a separate plastic bag. Guns should be transported in the trunk of a car.
The more guns taken off the streets the safer the city will be, the mayor and the police chief said. But unless the program can be extended or meaningful gun control legislation can be enacted, those weapons will be replaced and the violence will continue.
"Let's turn guns into Christmas presents,'' Finch said. "We're offering to buy the guns; to pay good money for them.''
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