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Church & State Want to Pay for Guns

This weekend, the first of two Gun Buy-Back events will take place, funded by the Stamford Police Department and the First Congregational Church of Stamford.

A city can accumulate a lot of guns in 11 years.

That's how long it's been since Stamford last participated in a program like the one that will take place this weekend. In 2001, Stamford police took 67 guns off the streets through a gun buy-back program.

This weekend, they hope to play catch-up on the long-overdue initiative.

The first Gun Buy Back will take place on December 1st from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Stamford Police Department, 805 Bedford Street. The second will be held at the First Congregational Church, 1 Walton Place, on December 15th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

One of the hurdles in pulling something like this together is that the police department is offering gift cards for operational firearms. They'll be collecting everything from operational and non-operational firearms top ammunition, carry cases and holsters, but can only offer funds for the functioning guns citizens are helping remove from the streets.

"One big issue was fundraising," said Officer Joseph Steyer, one of the officers involved in putting the program together. "We have no money for things like this earmarked. There used to be grants, but those are drying up. This is something we should be doing on a regular basis, but we haven't been."

Steyer said the community at the First Congregational Church was instrumental in getting the ball rolling, and helped raise funds themselves following a forum discussing the unusual level of violence that had taken place in Stamford throughout July.

"They raised up to $1,500," Steyer said. "They were concerned about the violence in the city and were a driving force in getting this going. They raised $1,100 that night."

Pam Shadford, Moderator for the First Congregational Church, said she was proud of her church and the community as a whole for pulling together to help make something like this happen, and proud of the Stamford Police for listening to their community and working so hard to put together the buy-back.

"We at First Congregational are so gratified that our discussion has materialized into this effort to address the gun violence in our area," Shadford said."There is an irony to this, in that we will never know what was prevented by having a gun taken out of circulation. But surely it can only be to the good."

Police said anyone turning in a weapon has amnesty to hand the firearm over, but must complete some paperwork to be eligible for the gift cards offered. Other rules for how to appropriately turn a weapon over to authorities are as follows:

  • All firearms must be unloaded
  • Weapons should be transported in a vehicle’s trunk
  • If carrying by hand, place the firearm in a bag or a box
  • Ammunitions should be transported in a container separate from any firearm
  • The program is open to both Stamford residents and non-residents
  • Businesses do not qualify
  • Firearms considered to be junk will not be accepted

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