“Taking action against gun violence in our city is my top priority. Guns that are purchased as part of this program can never be used to hurt or kill ever again. I strongly believe that this effort has saved lives and has made Bridgeport a safer place for kids and families. If this program saves one life, it is money well spent.”—Mayor Bill Finch
Bridgeport, Conn. (July 18, 2015) – The Bridgeport Gun Buyback program resumed this morning at the Police Department Community Services Division, and more than 100 weapons were collected by the end of the day, including 5 assault weapons.
At mid-morning, more than 50 people filled the community room and spilled outside at 1395 Sylvan Ave. The department had enough money to take several hundred guns off the streets and out of nightstands.
“Taking action against gun violence in our city is my top priority,” Mayor Finch said. “Guns that are purchased as part of this program can never be used to hurt or kill ever again. I strongly believe that this effort has saved lives and has made Bridgeport a safer place for kids and families. If this program saves one life, it is money well spent.”
One Bridgeport resident said he worried having two guns in his house.
“I have two weapons in the house and I wanted to get rid of them because I have two little kids now,” he said, identifying himself as Kenny. “I wanted to make sure they weren’t in the house where they could accidentally get in contact with them.”
He planned to use the money for his family’s upcoming vacation.
During Mayor Finch's last buyback program, which began in 2012, one of the first weapons turned in was an AR-15 assault rifle, the same type of weapon used to kill elementary schools kids and teachers in Newtown. Police also received several Street Sweepers, 12-round shotguns.
And, one of the first weapons turned in today was an Tec-9 assault pistol.
“These are not hunting guns. These are weapons of war. They are specifically designed to kill and maim other human beings and they have no place on our streets and in the hands of criminals,” said Joseph L. Gaudett.
“Every gun that is turned in is a gun that won’t end up on the street in the hands of a criminal or in the hands of a child who could accidentally injure himself or someone else,” added Chief Gaudett. “The police department works hard every day to keep our kids and families safe. This is another tool that helps keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.”
North End Community leader Waith Mitchell said he also believes the program keeps the community safer.
“This gets guns off the street and from owners who have guns and don’t want them to fall in the wrong hands,” he said.
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention, one person is killed in the U.S. by a firearm every 17 minutes, 87 people are killed during an average day, and 609 are killed every week. Also, between 2000 and 2010, a total of 335,609 people died from guns –more than the population of St. Louis, Mo. (318,069), Pittsburgh (307,484), Cincinnati, Ohio (296,223), Newark, N.J. (277,540), and Orlando, Fla. (243,195).
The Gun Buyback is part of an comprehensive strategy to reduce violence in the city. The Police Department has started daily walking beats in public housing complexes and opened a new community substation in Trumbull Gardens this month. This year, the department also started walking beats on East Main Street. Mayor Finch and the department have partnered with state and federal law enforcement in Project Longevity to take the people who commit violence off of our streets while offering support and a helping hand to the folks who want to change their lives for the better.
And, every day, the police department crime analysis unit and area commanders look for emerging crime trends and shift resources as needed.
Working with the community and local businesses, the city has taken nearly 1,000 guns off the streets through the Gun Buyback Program.
As part of the program, the Bridgeport Police Department offers up to $200 for a working handgun. People turning in rifles will receive up to $100. A weapon determined to be an assault rifle will be eligible for up to $400.