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Guns For Goods
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December 18, 2012
Over the weekend, gun owners voluntarily turned in 650 firearms to Prince Georges County and Baltimore City officials as part of an effort to reduce the volume of firearms in Maryland homes. WYPR’s Mary Rose Madden has more.
Mary Rose Madden: Even before last Friday’s horrific school shootings in Connecticut, officials were organizing efforts to get guns off the streets. Colonel Edward Martin, spokesperson for the Prince Georges County Police Department, said this was the third time this year that the department has sponsored what they call “gift cards for guns”. But this weekend, they saw the most guns turned in. Martin said he was a bit surprised.
Colonel Edward Martin: In lieu of the recent incident in Connecticut, just the overwhelming support that we received from the community and how they were willing to look at other people’s problems and be self- reflectful and also do things that they felt was right for their community. That’s really inspiring in the situation that we’re dealing with.
Madden: In Prince Georges, the Police Department tries to keep residents up to speed with events such as these by using a police blog – pgpolice.blogspot.com In Baltimore City, City Council President “Jack” Young teamed up with Shop Rite and UpLift Solutions to organize the city’s first “goods for guns”. Anyone who brought a gun to St. Paul Baptist Church was given a $100.00 gift card to the grocery store. Young said that although the city also had a “no questions asked” philosophy, many offered their stories.
Council President “Jack” Young: Some said they heard about what happened in Connecticut and they wanted to turn their guns in. But overwhelmingly they said they didn’t want their guns laying around their houses where burglars could break in and get them.
Madden: Anthony Guglielmi, spokesman for the Baltimore City Police Department, said studies show that the people who are giving their guns at these events are not criminals. But if you ask him if he’s surprised that more than 460 guns were just lying around in people’s homes unwanted – he’s certainly not surprised.
Anthony Guglielmi: I wish I could say, umm - We seize 3,000 illegal guns a year. Just Baltimore City. It’s a tremendous amount of guns out there. Unfortunately, when you look at the number of guns sold in Maryland a year, it’s somewhere between 20-30,000 guns a year. So as you can see, we’re not even making a dent in the amount of guns that are available out on the streets.
Madden: Still, Guglielmi gave high praise to Young who organized the event and gave people the opportunity. Young says he noticed all kinds of people waiting in line.
Young: I seen a couple young people. I seen some that looked like they were in their early 20s or late 20s. and that was a good scene to see the young people coming in, turning in guns.
Madden: Young pointed out that he’s been very conscious of taking any step he can towards increasing safety in the city. In fact, last week, he began a letter to the CEO of Baltimore Public Schools.
Young: Prior to this incident, my office crafted a letter asking Dr. Alonso for his strategic plan for Baltimore City schools. I wanted to know what the strategic plan is and in that strategic plan I wanted to know about safety.
Madden: In Baltimore, the school system has a police unit separate from the Baltimore City Police Department. Young says he’s eager to understand the city schools’ plans.
Young: I’ll be looking for something from Dr. Alonso.
Madden: School officials issued a statement about their security procedures – saying the presence of school police was being increased this week at district schools. I’m Mary Rose Madden, reporting in Baltimore for 88-1, WYPR.
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