City, market offer to trade groceries for guns

City officials are offering a trade: groceries for guns.

This Saturday, Klein's ShopRite will give a $100 gift certificate to anyone who turns in a firearm. The "Goods for Guns" buyback will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Coldstream Homestead Montebello Community Corp. headquarters, located on the campus of City College.

"Every single gun we get out of our neighborhoods is a success," said City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young, who helped organize the event.

City police officers will be on hand to collect the firearms, and representatives from ShopRite and nonprofit UpLift Solutions will distribute the $100 certificates, for use at Klein's. The guns will later be melted down, police said.

"There's no hidden agendas from the Police Department," said Baltimore police Maj. Darryl DeSousa. "Are we going to collect your name? No. Are we going to do warrant checks? No, we're not."

Marshall Klein, director of operations of Klein's Family Markets, said his company hopes to improve public safety in Baltimore.

"Violence in our communities makes any positive strides more challenging and affects us all," Klein said.

Gun buybacks have been a source of debate in Baltimore since at least 1974, when Mayor William Donald Schaefer called such programs "innovative."

Mayor Martin O'Malley questioned whether such measures were effective in 2000, saying the initiatives tended to collect "a lot of garbage guns." But five years later, the city spent $100,000 on a buyback program, and O'Malley endorsed the effort.

Since then, several churches have organized buyback initiatives, including in 2010, when two churches took 42 firearms off the street during a buyback.

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