Standing at the edge of a Codman Square park, city officials this week restarted a gun buyback program in a bid to curtail neighborhood violence. Dubbed “Your Piece for Peace,” the program has police accepting or picking up guns with “no questions asked,” officials said. The program is open Monday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at various district police stations.
If the gun, which can’t be loaded or an antique, is accepted by police, a $200 Visa gift card will be available in return.
Research shows gun buyback programs have a limited effect, though city and civic leaders defended the latest effort.
“It does work,” said Tina Chery, founder of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, a nonprofit in Fields Corner that she started after her son was killed by a stray bullet in 1993.
Chery said the buyback program has to be part of a larger effort to reduce gun violence. “If we complain and don’t do anything, we’re part of the problem.”
Joined by Mayor Marty Walsh, Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins and others at Loesch Family Park, she noted that she has a grandson who is 9 months old. “I don’t want to be here 20 years from now, talking gun buyback,” she said.
According to Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, officers have taken 136 guns off the streets so far this year. That includes 11 shotguns and 6 rifles. Two rifles, fully loaded, were removed from a home on River Street last week after police received a call about alleged domestic violence.
In 2013, a year that saw 40 murders and more than 200 shootings, 678 guns were taken off the streets, police said.
Members of Boston’s clergy class, including some who attended the Monday afternoon press conference at Loesch Family Park, formerly known as Wainwright Park, have also pledged to focus on getting local residents to turn in their guns.
“The police can’t do it alone,” Evans added.
The program is privately funded, and has raised $125,000 so far, with help from the Police Athletic League and the City of Boston Credit Union. Walsh said corporate donors will be involved as well.
Walsh also said he plans to host a summit on gun trafficking in the spring, which will include academics, community activists, politicians and law enforcement officials. Regional action is needed to “confront the problem head-on,” Walsh said.
“We will bring together leaders with power to make real change, mayors from across Massachusetts and New England, law enforcement agencies, federal, state and local, community partners and experts,” he added. “Together we will hammer out agreements on sharing data, on advocating for tougher state laws across the region. The summit won’t be about going after responsible gun owners.”