For the first time in five years, the Springfield Police Department held a gun buyback event on Saturday.
It did not take long to realize the event was a success.
"We did not know it was going to be this overwhelming response," said Sgt. John Delaney, as he addressed the Western Mass residents gathered inside police headquarters.
The department was so busy, they ran out of their $50 gift cards within the first two hours. So, the police went back to their sponsors.
"I made phone calls this morning," said Delaney. "When I told them we were running out of gift cards, they bankrolled the rest of it. So every gun that comes in here, they are going to get a Convenient Visa Card that is worth $50 for every gun they turn in, guaranteed."
In all, the department collected 333 guns in seven hours. That means more than $16,000 was handed out. Event sponsors were pleased to see the public show up and hope the event will make an impact down the line.
"I am a pediatric surgeon, so we take care of a number of children that have accidental injuries," said Dr. Kevin Moriarty, an event sponsor and trauma surgeon at Baystate Medical Center. "So, it is injury prevention number one, and number two, it is crime prevention."
Into the afternoon, dozens constantly packed into the police department lobby, wanting sell back their guns and gain some peace of mind.
"A safer place for it is probably here at the police station rather than my mother's house or unattended in her attic," said David Gamblin, an Agawam resident.
The turnout was surprising to organizers. The department last held a buyback five years ago and took in a total of 70 guns.
This time around, they surpassed that number in the first hour.
"It is telling me that there are a lot of guns out there," said Delaney. "[The guns] are kept in basements, closets and when somebody breaks into a house, they are looking for money and guns."
The event was privately funded.
The sponsors for the buyback were Convenient Cards, The Springfield Business Improvement District, Baystate Medical Center trauma unit doctors and the Sheraton in downtown Springfield.
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