Baltimore is again offering money in exchange for guns, between $25 and $500 during three events this month.
Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle announced the launch of the gun buyback program at a news conference Tuesday at police headquarters. Pugh said the program is one strategy to try to reduce violence in the city, which will likely surpass 300 homicides for the fourth year in a row.
“It’s just too much gun violence in this city,” Pugh said.
Most gun violence cases in the city, she said, involved illegal guns. Pugh mentioned a recent case in Baltimore County where 59 guns were stolen from a store, which she said could lead to more violence on the city’s streets.
“Innocent people are being killed, folks are being caught up in the crossfire,” she said.
Recently, several children have been injured in shootings, including a 13-year-old girl and her father who were shot Sunday night after leaving Mondawmin Mall where they had gone Christmas shopping. Last month, a 3-year-old boy was grazed by a bullet in East Baltimore and 5-year-old girl was wounded in a shooting in West Baltimore.
“We are coming towards the end of the year and we are doing everything we can to stay under a certain number, but I don’t want to even talk about that,” Pugh said, describing the buyback event as part of the city’s violence reduction initiatives. But she said the number of homicides and shootings are trending down, but “not as fast as we would want to, not as low as we would want, but we are still trending down.”
Officials said the last such event in Baltimore was in 2012. The first one was held in 1974, which collected more than 13,000 guns, Tuggle said.
Pugh did not say how much the buyback program would cost, but she believes the city has enough money for it. She said nonprofits would be contributing. The guns that are collected with be submitted to the police department’s evidence control unit, processed and eventually destroyed.
Critics of gun buyback events say they often result in the collection of broken and antique guns that are not being used in city violence.
Tuggle likened guns in households to the opioid crisis and the misuse of the drugs.
“If you don’t have those guns in the house, they can’t be used,” he said.
He said police often find guns that are stolen from legitimate gun owners and later used in violent crimes.
“At the end of the day, guns kill people and we want to get them off of the street,” he said.
The program is anonymous. Tuggle said guns should be brought in unloaded. Money will not be offered for ammunition.
Tuggle said there will be three events in three different areas where residents can drop off guns. The dates and locations are:
- Noon to 8 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Shake and Bake Fun Center,1601 Pennsylvania Ave.
- Noon to 8 p.m. Dec. 19 at the McElderry Park Community Center, 611 N. Montford Ave.
- Noon to 8 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Perkins Square Baptist Church, 2500 Edmondson Ave.
People who turn in guns will receive cash amounts.
- $25 for Hi-Cap magazines
- $100 for revolvers, pump, and bolt-action weapons
- $200 for semi-automatic weapons
- $500 for fully automatic weapons