$50 gun buyback plan set

Carter's idea adopted

city will accept up to 100 weapons in April

Not a `serious' problem

Measure is viewed as proactive

questions will not be asked

March 23, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

Joining other cities trying to reduce gun violence, Annapolis police and housing officials announced yesterday a $50 gun buyback program.

"We don't have a serious gun problem," said Annapolis Alderman Cynthia A. Carter, who suggested the buyback for Annapolis. "But if we could get any of them off the street, it would be good."

Carter was inspired last summer, when an elderly resident approached her with a problem: She had a handgun in her house and didn't know what to do with it.

The woman didn't know who the weapon belonged to or how it got there, Carter recalled yesterday, but she did know that she wanted it out of the house.

Carter, a Ward 6 Democrat, got an idea: If just 35 miles away in the nation's capital, thousands of Washington-area residents were flooding city police stations to sell their guns for $100 each, perhaps a similar program could work in Annapolis.

The buyback will be held April 8 at the Annapolis Housing Authority's recreation center, 148 Clay St., and April 22 at the Eastport Fire Station on Bay Ridge Avenue.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, participants can exchange guns for $50 apiece -- with an extra $50 from the city government for some high-powered or automatic weapons, said Lt. Robert E. Beans Sr. of the Annapolis Police Department.

But the number of guns to be purchased may number no more than 100, based on the funding available for the effort.

As part of a $15 million program to reduce gun violence in public housing, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has given the Annapolis Housing Authority $1,500 and allowed it to allocate $3,500 from its drug-elimination grant funding for the gun program.

Baltimore received $286,000 to organize a forthcoming gun buyback program, one of many the city has held over the past several decades. The city collected more than 1,000 guns at $100 each in 1997.

P. Holden Croslan, executive director of the Annapolis Housing Authority, said her department will put up the money, but the program will be run by police.

"It wasn't like there was a problem," Croslan said. "We just found that funds were available."

Carter said she sees the program as a proactive measure. "It never is a problem until something happens," she said. "We know the guns are out there."

Beans said the guns will be destroyed or -- if found to be stolen property -- returned to owners. People turning in guns will not be required to offer any explanation.

"There's no questions asked," Beans said. "Just come on and bring it in."

Weapons must be brought to the sites unloaded. People unable to travel to the sites can call the police at 410-268-9000 to arrange for a pickup.

Sun staff writer Rafael Alvarez contributed to this article.

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