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Editorial: Gunning for safety / The return of a firearms buyback program

Friday, November 30, 2001

It has become a time-honored holiday tradition -- asking people to turn in their handguns. But the Goods for Guns program has been good for Allegheny County.

New numbers released this week to promote the buyback, which returns for the next two Saturdays, don't make an airtight case that the program caused the huge drop in gun-inflicted child injuries in the county. But Goods for Guns couldn't have hurt.

The deal is simple. Bring in a rifle or a shotgun, and collect a $25 gift certificate to Kaufmann's or Giant Eagle. Bring in a handgun, and get a $50 certificate. No names are taken, no questions asked.

Since 1994, Goods for Guns has induced people to turn in more than 6,500 firearms. In the same period, gun-inflicted deaths and injuries among children in Allegheny County fell from 35 seven years ago to two so far this year. A greater factor, though, could have been the general downturn in crime nationwide, until an up-tick this year.

Some of the guns turned in through the buyback program were no longer wanted by their owners. Some were discovered by or given to people who had no use for them. Some were stolen or illegal, judging by their eradicated serial numbers. In any case, they were guns with no purpose except a potential for tragedy. Sponsoring an amnesty program to collect -- and destroy -- them is a public service to untold individuals.

The Rosenberg Foundation for Public Safety is again supporting the buyback, which will cost about $50,000 this year. Established in June 2000 by the Glosser family of Johnstown and Pittsburgh, the foundation is a memorial to late U.S. District Judge Louis Rosenberg and a response to the shooting rampages of Richard Baumhammers and Ronald Taylor.

Anyone with an unwanted firearm may turn it in tomorrow or Dec. 8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the city's Old No. 2 Firehouse on the Boulevard of the Allies, Downtown; the Homestead police station on East Ninth Avenue; the Wilkinsburg Borough Building on Ross Street; or the Monroeville No. 4 Fire Hall on Northern Pike.

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