Mayor Marty Walsh stands with police, religious and community leaders to announce the city's gun buyback and anti-violence efforts. Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro
Even before Mayor Marty Walsh officially announced Boston's first gun buyback program in years, five guns had already been turned over to authorities.
The city's gun buyback program launched on Monday at noon. About an hour later Walsh was joined by Boston police and religious leaders at a Dorchester park to announce the program as a "first step" in youth violence prevention efforts.
"Removing guns from neighborhoods is at the heart of violence prevention," Walsh said. "Every gun turned in is a potential saved life."
During the announcement, police Commissioner William Evans said that five guns, including three handguns, had already been turned over to police as part of the program. So far this year, police have recovered 136 guns, including 119 handguns and 11 shotguns, said Evans. Last year, more than 600 guns were seized.
Besides the gun buyback, which will exchange active handguns for $200 Visa gift cards at various locations throughout the city no questions asked, Walsh announced plans for an upcoming regional summit on gun trafficking and an increased focus on funding for summer jobs to provide an opportunity for teens.
Religious and community leaders expressed support for the gun buyback program, but urged those in the community to help make is successful.
"We, as mothers, as fathers, as grandmothers, as aunts, as uncles, as cousins, as friends, we do have the power to turn those guns in. And it is going to take courage ... and we cannot be afraid of our children," said Tina Chery, founder of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, which is named for her son who was fatally shot in 1993.
Walsh said the funding for the program will come from private sources and that more than $100,000 has been raised so far.