Police are encouraging residents of Worcester, Mass., to trade in their guns for free flu shots and gift certificates during its annual “Goods for Guns Buyback Program” next weekend.
Citizens can anonymously turn in “unloaded and wrapped in a bag” semi-automatic firearms, handguns or long guns in exchange for a flu shot and a Wegman’s gift certificate for $75, $50 or $25 respectively. The police department also welcomes residents to turn in non-operable guns, live ammunition and firearm accessories, although no incentive is offered for those items.
Additionally, the city’s police department is offering illegal firearm owners another incentive during the buyback program: amnesty.
“Absolutely, positively, come one, come all. We’re not asking any names or questions,” Deputy Police Chief Edward J. McGinn told Telegram.com.
The event description boasts “no gun registrations required.”
Since the program was launched in 2002, city residents have relinquished an estimated 2,200 guns in exchange for freebies. Last year, the program yielded about 40 guns.
Dr. Michael P. Hirsh, Worcester’s acting public health commissioner, commented on the purpose of the buyback program. “We’re asking folks to bring in any guns that they can’t store properly. And by being stored properly, I mean unloaded and locked away from children.”
Dr. Hirsh started the first gun buyback program in Pittsburgh in 1994. Since then, major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, Boston, Detroit and Cleveland have established similar programs.