Buying back safety

Arundel: Annapolis' money-for-guns exchange should heighten awareness and reduce risks.

March 28, 2000

ANNAPOLIS is getting into the gun buyback act, and some critics are bound to ask: What good will it do?

Antagonists argue gun buyback programs are useless, because they don't directly reduce violence. Many of the guns bought back are "junk" weapons, not in the league or caliber of the dangerous firearms that are the scourge of the streets. Besides, local skeptics might scowl, Annapolis doesn't have the gunplay of Baltimore, which records 1,200 to 1,400 shootings a year.

But buybacks serve a purpose, as even some of these critics acknowledge. They focus public attention on a problem and raise awareness that too many guns are around and that even old, unlocked guns can pose dangers. It is important to remember that the battle against crime requires that government work hard to reduce the number of handguns on the streets and enforce gun laws. These two goals are not mutually exclusive, as the National Rifle Association seems to think in its harmful campaign to keep the streets flowing with weapons.

So Annapolis deserves credit for joining jurisdictions that have offered everything from hundred-dollar bills to Beanie Babies for firearms. The city hopes to take as many as 100 guns out of circulation, offering $50 for each firearm, $100 for high-powered weapons.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is picking up the costs for the program as part of its $15 million effort to reduce gun violence in public housing.

Ward 6 Alderwoman Cynthia A. Carter thought Annapolis should participate in the program after an elderly woman found a handgun in her house and didn't know what to do with it. There may be others with the same problem. Now they'll know what to do.

Those wishing to exchange guns for cash should go to the Annapolis Housing Authority's Hacka-Clay Street recreation center, 148 Clay Street, or to the Eastport Fire Station on Bay Ridge Av. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 8.

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