HARTFORD -- The capital city is rallying around gun violence prevention by supporting the Hartford police departments gun buyback program.
The program, in its 10th year, is meant to take illegal guns off the streets to ensure that they don’t get into the wrong hands like children or people intending to commit crimes.
"Not one more victim of senseless violence or gun in the wrong hands that will commit an act of violence," said Hartford Police Lieutenant Paul Cicero, who is close to many gun crimes as a detective in the Major Crimes Division. "Just recently we had a four-year-old that shot themselves in the hand with an unsecured firearm in a house that was also an unwanted gun. So, we want to take those guns off the street."
Gun Buyback programs in both Hartford and New Haven bought back guns from people who no longer wanted them in exchange for a gift card. Sue Wacht bought her shotgun 20 years ago for when she took her RV to different states. She no longer needs or wants it and the program gave her the opportunity to return it.
"I think we need to have much tighter control and I don't need to have a shotgun in my house for any reason or take one with me anywhere," said Wacht.
The event is widely successful with anywhere from 60 to more than 100 guns being turned in by Hartford community members every single year. An actual manhole cover used in the 1990's, was made from 172 pounds of confiscated guns. The guns turned in may be destroyed, but they could also be historical.
"Six years ago, we had a very historical firearm from Germany in the Nazi era that ended up going to auction and we've had some go to museums," said Cicero. "So, yeah, we're going to run the numbers on the firearm, find out a firearm history on it, and we go from there. [E]very circumstance is different."
Gun control became a more predominant social issue after the Sandy Hook School Shootings, which claimed the life of 26 Connecticut children and educators six years ago.
Today, doctors say everyone has a second amendment right, but that gun violence prevention is a public health problem.
"One of the most important things we can do is help prevent those things from happening," says Dr. David Shapiro, a Trauma Doctor at St. Francis Hospital. "We make cars safer. We enforce speed limits. We tell people to stop drinking and driving. We tell them to stop smoking to prevent cancer. We can offer this event to help keep people safe from firearms."
The Hartford Police Department holds a number of gun buyback events throughout the year.
Police collected at the Hartford Buyback 137 firearms, consisting of 46 revolvers, 43 pistols, four assault rifles, 25 shotguns and 19 rifles. This is double the amount collected last year.