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Boston officials on Monday began a new gun buyback program, in an effort to get illegal firearms off city streets.
Under the "Your Piece For Peace" program, people can anonymously turn in a gun to police stations and 24 drop-off sites throughout Boston, and receive a $200 Visa gift card in return.
"Every gun turned in is a life potentially saved," Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said in a statement announcing the buyback. "If you have access to a gun, here is your opportunity to turn it in and help us break the cycle of violence."
Those turning in a firearm must follow a specific protocol (see here for that protocol and drop-off locations and hours), and private exchanges may also be arranged. It's a no-questions-asked program, so "[i]f protocol is followed, the person dropping off the firearm will not be prosecuted for unlawful possession of that specific firearm," the statement said.
Gift cards will only be issued for workable guns. Gift cards will not be issued for turned-in junk or antique guns, rifles or shotguns.
The program has so far raised about $125,000 from donations, per WBUR's Delores Handy.
Gun buyback programs have been a staple of urban crime-fighting measures across the country for more than two decades, but a growing body of research has concluded they are ineffective, at best.
Indeed in its FAQ Monday, the Boston Police Department said "there are no reliable statistics regarding a gun buyback’s direct effect on gun violence." But, the BPD FAQ, added: "That said, we do know that if a gun is turned in, it will not be used in a future crime."
The city's buyback was first announced early last month, after a 14-year-old Mattapan boy was accused of accidentally shooting and killing his 9-year-old brother. That death followed a higher-than-average nine homicides — including eight by gun — in the month of January.
"This is the first step in a long-term, city-wide mission to prevent violence," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in Monday's statement on the buyback program.
Walsh also announced the city will host a regional gun trafficking summit later this spring, and he has pledged to create 10,000 jobs for youth in Boston this summer.