Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and a group of local organizations are teaming up with the Hartford Police Department to offer a gun buyback program in an effort to get guns off of Hartford’s streets.
“The Big Gun Buy Campaign” will buy back guns with the intention of curbing gun violence and making Hartford’s streets safer.
Hartford has had several gun buybacks in the past, but this year’s buyback is unique, according to Segarra.
“It prioritizes the guns from within our neighborhood,” Segarra said Wednesday during a press conference to promote the event.
Segarra said that the city needs to reach into its neighborhoods and get these weapons off the streets, mainly because most gun crimes are committed by a very small percentage of individuals in the city’s neighborhoods.
“Eighty percent of gun crimes committed in Hartford are committed by only one percent of its residents,” Hartford Deputy Chief Brian Foley said.
The city will buy back working firearms on Saturday in exchange for gift cards to Stop & Shop Supermarket. Residents will receive a $200 gift card for a handgun and a $50 gift card for a shotgun or rifle.
“A handgun is our nemesis. A handgun is the one who that breaks the hearts of our families here in the inner city,” Pastor Samuel Saylor said. Saylor lost his 20-year-old son, Shane Oliver, to gun violence in 2012.
“Your guns are not worth $200, but your life is,” Saylor said. “Two hundred dollars is not buying back your guns, but affording you opportunities to increase life in our inner cities.”
Henrietta Beckman, president of Mothers United Against Violence , said that the buyback is an opportunity to save a life. Beckman lost her son to gun violence.
“You never know whose life will be taken next,” Beckman said.
The buyback will be held 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 19, at the Stewart Johnson Community Center, 127 Martin St., Hartford.
Guns collected through this buyback will be turned over to the Raise the Caliber Foundation, which will shred the guns and create a sculpture from them. The sculpture will be displayed somewhere in Hartford in September.
According to Hartford Police Department statistics, shooting incidents are up 5 percent over where they were in 2013. There were 60 shooting incidents and victims in 2013, and 63 shooting incidents and victims in 2014, according to the most recent statistics on the Hartford Police Department website.