$3,800 paid for 65 guns; Buyback is on again Dec. 20.


Byline: Gary V. Murray

WORCESTER - The numbers were down from last year, but the sponsors of the seventh annual Goods for Guns program were happy to take in 65 unwanted firearms yesterday and give out $3,800 in Wal-Mart gift certificates on the buyback program's first of two days.

By 3 p.m., 37 automatic or semiautomatic weapons, 15 rifles or shotguns and 13 pistols or revolvers were turned in at the Department of Public Health offices at 25 Meade St. The program, begun in 2002, is sponsored by the Injury Prevention Program at the UMass Memorial Children's Medical Center, the UMass Memorial Trauma Center and the Worcester Police Department; it is endorsed by District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.

Its main goal is to get unwanted firearms out of homes where children might be present. According to the sponsors, statistics show that a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to kill a family member or friend than an intruder.

Participants, who are granted anonymity, receive a $75 Wal-Mart gift certificate in exchange for an automatic or semiautomatic weapon, a $50 certificate in exchange for a pistol or revolver and a $25 certificate in exchange for a long gun.

Guns must be unloaded and wrapped in a bag. A license to carry a firearm or a firearm identification card is not required.

The second day of the two-day event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 20 at Worcester police headquarters, 911 Lincoln Square.

Since its inception six years ago, the gun buyback program has taken in more than 1,500 firearms, including 250 in 2002, 244 in 2003, 305 in 2004, 206 in 2005, 271 in 2006 and 217 last year. The weapons are turned over to Worcester police and destroyed, according to Lee Bona, UMass Memorial injury prevention coordinator.

Ms. Bona said about 50 percent fewer guns were handed in yesterday than during the first day of last year's program, which may have been because a venue other than Worcester police headquarters was being used for the first time.

"We're happy with any response, really," said Dr...

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