City Plans 2 Gun Buybacks

Thomas MacMillan PhotoGun buybacks don’t just save lives on the streets, said the mayor. They also save lives in the living room.

Mayor Toni Harp delivered that message during a Monday afternoon press conference to announce two summer gun buybacks.

New Haven police will collect guns at events on June 28 and July 12. The buybacks are part of a recent push to curb gun violence in the city.

Gun buybacks have a big impact on child safety and on domestic violence, the mayor said. Most guns collected in gun buybacks have been sitting around the home, where they might play a deadly role in a domestic fight, or where children could find them and hurt themselves, Harp said.

“As a 3rd-grader, one of my very best friends was killed by a legal gun,” Harp said. You may think you have your gun hidden away where a child can’t find it, she said, but “children know all the hiding places.”

This summer’s gun buyback events will be held between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on June 28 at the New Haven Police at 710 Sherman Ave., and at Radio Amor at 261 Portsea St. on July 12 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. People can drop off guns anonymously, no questions asked. They will receive a $75 Stop & Shop or Target gift card for every handgun, shotgun or rifle, and a $150 for every assault weapon.

The events are sponsored by an $8,000 donation from Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Harp called the effort “a peaceful retaliation against urban violence.” Other city efforts include expanded youth activities, joint firefighter-cop patrols, and expanded community policing through “judicious use of overtime.”

Assistant Police Chief Luiz Casanova (pictured) said the New Haven police department has recovered about 900 guns since 2012, including 128 collected in the last gun buyback. Collected guns are subject to ballistics testing to see if they are connected to unsolved crimes, then they are handed over to the state to be destroyed, Casanova said.

The majority of guns taken in buybacks have not been used in a crime, Casanova said. Often they’ve simply been “laying idle.”

Asked about the effectiveness of gun buybacks, Casanova returned to the theme introduced by the mayor: the danger of kids finding guns in the home. “If we can save one kid’s life, it’s worth it.”

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 17, 2014  9:36am

Gun buybacks popular but ineffective, experts say.

Buyback campaigns more often than not end up with hunting rifles or old revolvers from someone’s attic than with automatic weapons that criminals might use, analysts say.

posted by: Noteworthy on June 17, 2014  10:17am

The theater of safety continues to play during Arts and Ideas.

This is nothing but a feel good program, with the claims of making us safer completely fabricated. There is zero evidence to support Harp’s claims. Whatever wordsmith called the gun buyback a “peaceful retaliation” should be given a thesaurus -  “retaliation” is about punishment, retribution, revenge. They are turning in guns with zero of any of that, peaceful or not. It’s interesting that a related word connection is “backfire.”

The only good news is that Yale New Haven is paying for our theater tickets. NHI and WTNH are the media sponsors.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on June 17, 2014  11:51am

The Harp Administration makes an effort to address New Haven gun violence with a gun buy-back program and critics rise up to dismiss it as ineffective political theater.
I find it quite peculiar that these critics did not put forth their proposals for some better, more effective strategy to address this problem. It is far easier to be negative and critical than to be positive and constructive. The latter takes more thought, creativity, ingenuity and vision.
Mayor Harp did not imply that the gun buy-back program was the only strategy to curb gun violence in New Haven. It was not projected as a panacea. If the gun buy-back program succeeds in getting some guns out of the hands of little kids, the mentally ill, potential suicides or criminals, it could potentially save lives. One gun gone is better than none. One life saved would be worth all the effort.
So, Three-fifths and Noteworthy, it matters not what the “experts” say.  Every city and every situation is unique. The negative conclusions of the analysts often fail to consider the many successful accounts of such programs getting dangerous guns out of homes and off the streets. Surely, in the multitude of cities across America which have had gun buy-back programs, many lives have been saved.
It would be rather naive to think that criminals and gangsters will be lined up to turn over their weapons, but some parent or friend or relative could possibly convince some of those people to turn over a weapon held at home. Some kid may be looking for an venue to turn in a gun. You critics don’t know everything. I guess if you did you would have proposed your own solutions to this pressing problem instead of dismissing the Mayor’s program.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 17, 2014  12:45pm

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on June 17, 2014 11:51am

You critics don’t know everything. I guess if you did you would have proposed your own solutions to this pressing problem instead of dismissing the Mayor’s program.

My solution.Time for a new police chief.

posted by: Yaakov on June 17, 2014  12:47pm

“When it comes to gun buybacks, both the theory and the data could not be clearer in showing that they don’t work. The only guns that get turned in are ones that people put little value on anyway. There is no impact on crime.” for clunkers&st=cse

A wonderful waste of money.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on June 17, 2014  12:48pm

Gun buyback programs have no impact on the routine gun violence in the city. It may prevent some future accidental killing that happen from time to time when children find parents’ guns. Even if this program ends up saving one life in the next 10 years, I’d say it’s still worth it just to do.

I support gun buyback programs because I don’t think they do any harm, and even if they might save a life, that possibility is worth the very low-cost of the program.

I would appreciate more honesty and accuracy from politicians though when it comes to this. We’ve been having gun buybacks annually for years, yet it has had no impact on gun violence in the city - let’s be real.

posted by: FacChec on June 17, 2014  1:32pm

@ Thomas Paine

The poster’s here have every right to be critical of the city’s repetitive buyback program, for the obvious reason that the program lacks an analysis of past efforts buttressed by new and creative methods which encompasses an education component of our youth and their parents.

Asked about the effectiveness of gun buybacks, Casanova returned to the theme introduced by the mayor: the danger of kids finding guns in the home. “If we can save one kid’s life, it’s worth it.”

While it may be worth “it” in as much as a life is concern, incidences involving youth pales in comparison to majority of shootings committed by 17 to 30 year-older, who have no intent on selling out their weapons, when the average cost ranges between $400 to $700 for a hand gun, and $700 to $2000 for an automatic assault weapon.

I seriously doubt this age group, who are responsible for 99.5% of all shootings in New Haven, will contemplate a “buy back” compensation of $75.00 to $150.00 in gift cards, whose only gift could result in another life taken.  Although a non-profit is providing the $8,000 in gift cards, it simply shows a complete lack of for-thought, planning, targeting, education and an evolving approach to achieve desired results.

I too am critical of this simplistic repetitive approach executed only to show political action by the aldermen and the Mayor, to a problem which is absent of actionable results.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on June 17, 2014  1:41pm

It is so wonderful that so many commenters here are so omniscient. Some of you profess to know every detail about every case involving a gun buy back in New Haven and every other city in America!  All of you critics must have inside information from every police force in America which has had a gun buy-back program or divine revelations about police dealings with these matters. How do you just know, Jonathan Hopkins, that the buy-back programs have had absolutely “no impact on gun violence in the city?”
Let’s just be really real. You don’t know. You and the other critics are making assumptions. You do not have access to all of the facts and repercussions of such programs. What could have been done with every gun that was turned in? No one knows, not even Mr. Hopkins or Yaakov!
But this one thing we all do know, every single gun turned in in this program will never, ever be used again to hurt or to kill someone. That is an undeniable fact. That makes it all worthwhile. That makes this program a wise financial investment.  And yes, that makes this New Havener feel a little safer!
When I requested critics of this program to supply us with their superior alternatives, I expected a much more intelligent and sophisticated answer than “Time for a new police chief.”  That wasn’t even three-fifths of a logical alternative to Mayor Harp’s gun buy-back program!

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on June 17, 2014  5:04pm


I think we’re on the same side. I support the gun buyback programs. Having looked at the statistics, however, I’ve realized that these programs have no significant impact on urban gun violence figures. There are hundreds of incidents a year involving guns - robbery, assault, murder - and gun buybacks do not put a significant dent in those figures year-to-year.

However, if the gun buyback program saves even one life in the next 10 years, then I say its worth it to do. I’d rather give someone a $50 gift card than to have a little kid find that gun in their parents basement and accidentally shoot a friend or themselves. Having said that, if someone wants to get a gun, they will still be able to regardless of gun buybacks. This program really only helps in situations where someone happens to come across a gun.

If someone intends to use a gun - as is the case with most gun-related crimes - they will continue to do so. This program can hope to get guns out of homes so that kids don’t come across them and make a mistake.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on June 17, 2014  5:31pm

I applaud this mayor for continuing to remain active in focusing on gun violence prevention.  She easily could just attend funerals and pray for the bereaved families and call it day.  But to Mayor Harp’s credit, she has decided to try a plethora of intervention techniques while trying to address this complex scourge that is consuming the city.

The idea that some survey states that a “gun buy back” program is a waste of time, is downright preposterous.  It would be my suggestion to the Mayor to do this on a monthly basis.  If it’s regularly introduced city-wide, perhaps some hardcore gun toting individuals will coax others to participate in the program also. 

In the early 1990’s, I received a letter from Assist. Police Chief Mel Wearing commending me for turning in a popular handgun that was being circulated in the projects of Rockview and Westville Manor.  I wish not to highlight the letter I received from Mel, but to focus on the gun instead.

Unfortunately, many of these inner-city kids are fascinated with handguns.  While being totally unaware of the dangers and prison time associated with them. 

Hey critics, rifles kill too.

Stay on the front line with this mayor Harp, and you will most assuredly witness positive results.

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on June 17, 2014  7:19pm

I’m in favor of it too; but I wonder if there is any way to know how many times somebody turns in a crummy gun for the money, and then uses the cash towards buying a newer and shinier gun.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 17, 2014  7:28pm

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on June 17, 2014 1:41pm

When I requested critics of this program to supply us with their superior alternatives, I expected a much more intelligent and sophisticated answer than “Time for a new police chief.”  That wasn’t even three-fifths of a logical alternative to Mayor Harp’s gun buy-back program!

First it is not Mayor Harp’s gun buy-back program.Gun buyback programs have been popping up around the country with increasing regularity in the wake of the mass shootings.Do you expect any real criminals to turn in their guns?

Like I sad read the data.

Do gun buyback programs accomplish anything useful?

May 16, 2014

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on June 18, 2014  8:17am

“I seriously doubt this age group . . . will contemplate a “buy back” compensation of $75.00 to $150.00 in gift cards . . .”

No, but perhaps their parent, spouse, or partner might, in hopes of keeping their loved one from trouble.

posted by: Noteworthy on June 18, 2014  11:04am

Kinder, Gentler Notes:

1. It is not my responsibility as a taxpayer, citizen or commenter here to come up with solutions to violence and irrational gun play in the City of New Haven.

2. The taxes here are extraordinary; the city budget is over a half a billion dollars and we are now suffering under a new round of tax increases thanks to more debt, more employees, more mayoral perks and staff and for the first time ever, a $50 million line of credit.

3. In all that spending, there ought to be people focused on solving the problem, not playing to the press and people, peppering them with fake solutions devoid of any factual basis or metric for measuring effectiveness.

4.  I’m reminded of the line from “Armageddon” when NASA and Bruce Willis are meeting to discuss how to take out a giant comet racing toward earth that if it hits, will wipe out mankind. “Your NASA for xxxxxx sake. This is what you do. You sit around and think xxxx up. And this is the best you can do?”

5. Where is the initiative to intervene at the family level? Where is the crack down on gun running? On gangs? On drugs? On stepped up checks on released felons? The best we can do is put faith in Ice the Beef campaigns and Hug a Thug programs? And gun buy backs?

6. There is an epidemic of guns on our streets and they are not turning them for gift card to Target and they’re not getting the state’s permission slip to buy ammo or waiting in line for months to get the state’s permission to buy a gun.

7.  It’s time to dump the baby pablum and get to the meat. I’m damn sure paying for something other than theatrical performance.