The Howard County Police Department Monday announced plans for a gun safety event March 16, including a gun buyback program and the distribution of free gun locks.

"This is truly about safety," Police Chief Bill McMahon said in a statement. "If you have a gun in your home that you no longer want, we will help you eliminate the possibility that it could be used in a way you never intended. We want to keep your gun out of the wrong hands. If you don't want it, we will destroy it for you."

Residents can make $100 for each gun handed in, up to three guns. The payments will be made from asset forfeiture funds seized in drug investigations.

The Buyback Safety Day is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 16 at the Dorsey Building, 9250 Bendix Road in Columbia.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said the county wants to be as safe as possible for those who own guns and those who don't.

"Gun locks, safety tips and training, and a way to safely remove unwanted weapons from homes can all help toward this critical goal," he said in a statement.

Residents who participate will remain anonymous and officers will not ask for identification. Police will buy any complete firearm, but will not buy gun parts or pellet guns.

Officers will take and destroy ammunition, buy the cash payment only applies to firearms.

Everyone who attends the event and still has a firearm at home will receive a free gun lock, whether or not they have turned in a weapon. The locks are being provided by the Howard County Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes programs to improve public safety.

Each gun will be run through a database to determine if it was ever stolen. For any stolen weapon, police will conduct an investigation, including a test-fire to determine if it was ever used in a known crime. Once the investigation is complete, police will attempt to return each gun to its rightful, legal owner.

Residents attending the event should arrive with their weapons unloaded and locked in the trunk, or another inaccessible part of the vehicle, for officer safety. Residents will be asked to stay in their cars and officers will access the weapons directly.

Residents with questions can call 410-313-4789 or visit www.howardcountymd.gov/gunbuyback.htm.