Residents Cash In Guns for Peace of Mind
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Francinina Jones grabbed her husband's long shotgun, the one he became attached to during years of hunting, and marched straight to the police station in Southeast D.C.
"I wanted the gun out of the house," said Jones, 55, who lives in Southeast and traded the firearm for a $50 payment from the city. "There's too much killing, all these young people have guns."
Jones and hundreds of others got cash for guns as part of the police department's gun buyback program, which yesterday netted 337 firearms and paid area residents about $16,700.
Those who turned in guns at one of three District police stations tended to be middle-aged or older people who had firearms lying around the house and no longer had a use for them. Many said they did not want them to be stolen or involved in an accident.
"You're not going to get the guy going around robbing people on the street turning in guns," said Cmdr. Joel Maupin, who is in charge of the department's 7th District in Southeast.
If police can reduce the number of guns in homes, they can cut down on the likelihood they will make it to the street, Maupin said.
The department paid for the weapons with $250,000 it received as part of the emergency crime bill the city passed in July in response to a spike in homicides, robberies and other crime.
Police got everything from TEC-9 pistols to hunting rifles. Some people also turned in ammunition.
Taft Wallace, 71, showed up with a .38-caliber pistol and a .25-caliber semiautomatic. They belonged to his brother-in-law, a retired police officer who lives in Southeast, he said.
"He's got grandchildren floating all over the house," said Wallace, who had just gotten $200 for the weapons and was being escorted to his car by an officer. "He wants them out."
Handguns are illegal in the District, but residents can get permits for shotguns and rifles. Police accepted any kind of working firearm yesterday, no questions asked.
Residents of the District, Prince George's, Montgomery and Arlington counties and the city of Alexandria were eligible to turn in weapons for cash. Police from several of those jurisdictions said their departments do not have gun buyback programs. In previous buybacks, D.C. police also have accepted weapons from suburbanites.