MA City’s Anti-Gun Program: Free Flu Shots & Gift Cards in Exchange for Your Firearms
Local officials are offering residents of Worcester, Massachusetts, a bargain. In exchange for firearms, they will be given a Wegman’s grocery store gift card and a flu shot, free of charge. In order to take advantage of the community “special,” locals simply need to bring their unloaded and unwanted weapons in a wrapped bag to the Worcester Police Headquarters.
The annual effort has been in effect since 2002 and, according to Telegraph.com, the “Goods for Guns Program” has collected 2,200 firearms, doling out coveted gift cards to those who comply. In 2011, 40 guns were turned in to officials and, according to Deputy Chief Edward J. McGinn, firearms are destroyed after being turned over to authorities.
The program is a collaboration between public health officials, police and UMass memorial Medical Center’s Injury Prevention, among other local partners. Residents were able to turn in guns this past Saturday or they can do so again on Dec. 8.
Naturally, those who have illegal firearms or who are worried about their past legal problems might be hesitant to flag themselves by turning in their weapons. But, according to authorities, there’s no need to fear, as guns can be handed over with no questions asked.
“Absolutely, positively, come one, come all,” said McGinn. “We’re not asking any names or questions.”
The program, according to Dr. Michael P. Hirsh, the city’s acting public health commissioner, has become a model for other cities to follow. Hirsh believes that gun buy-back programs help bring down firearm fatalities. In particular he believes that the Worcester effort has helped distinguish the city as having the lowest firearm fatality rate in New England.
The city’s web site advertises the program, breaking down the benefits for those who choose to turn in guns. The description makes it clear that the effort goes beyond merely opposing illegal firearms.
“A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to kill a family member or friend than to kill an intruder,” the text proclaims. “With gun ownership comes the responsibility of storing guns locked, unloaded and inaccessible to kids.”
The city notes that if properly handling a gun is not something that is doable, then residents can “dispose of the firearm” through the “Goods for Guns” program. For a semi-automatic weapon, one would receive a $75 gift certificate, whereas a handgun would only leave one with a $50 card (long guns are worth $25). Flu shots, as stated, are also available.
And — there’s a limit on the number of guns that can be offered per person. Only four hand guns and two long guns per individual can be turned in if one wishes to receive the aforementioned benefits.
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