Guns For Groceries

Somerville is giving out supermarket gift cards in exchange for firearms.

Somerville wants your guns, and in exchange, they’ll give you gift cards to go grocery shopping. As for spending that hard-earned cash at a Somerville supermarket? You might want to wait before heading over to Market Basket.

On Saturday, August 16, the city is hosting a gun buyback program for an entire day, taking in unloaded firearms from residents as part of a partnership between the city’s police department and the Middlesex County Sheriff’s office.

“This important community service will offer residents the opportunity to properly dispose of firearms to help keep the community safe,” according to a statement from Somerville officials.

There is a “no-questions-asked” agreement as part of the gun buyback program, meaning unlicensed residents who want to get rid of weapons—whether illegal or not—can do so without the fear of retribution.

“Unlicensed residents who turn in weapons will not be prosecuted for the crime of unlawful possession of a weapon,” officials said.

During the daylong buyback program, which runs from 9 a.m. through 3 p.m., police will be accepting handguns, rifles, shotguns, working and non-working weapons, and ammunition. In exchange for their contribution, residents will receive a grocery store gift certificate. Officials will also be accepting BB guns, pellet guns, and air rifles, but people who turn in those types of weapons will not receive an incentive.

Officers are asking people to transport the guns, unloaded, to the police department, stored in a box in their car’s trunk. Weapons that are not properly stored will be removed from cars with the assistance of police.

From there, the gun will be taken, logged in by the Middlesex Sheriff’s office, and sent out for destruction, officials said in a statement Wednesday.

“This program has been a successful  in other communities and I’m sure there are unwanted firearms in attics and basements around Somerville,” said Somerville’s Interim Police Chief Charles Femino.

In March, Boston hosted its own gun buyback program, called “Piece for Peace.” It was the first time the city had conducted such a program in conjunction with the Police Department in more than a decade. Within hours of kicking off the event, the department took in five firearms. By May nearly 300 guns had been turned in.

Somerville’s gun buyback announcement comes the same day that Governor Deval Patrick is slated to sign some of the most comprehensive firearms reform laws in the country.

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