Finch, police department highlight success of gun buyback program

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Police Lt. Albert Karpus, Officer Nick Ortiz, Assistant Police Chief James Nardozzi, Mayor Bill Finch and Capt. Roderick Porter discuss the success of the city’s gun buyback program. All guns on the table were turned in during the first six weeks of the program.

Standing in front of an array of weapons, Mayor Bill Finch, Assistant Police Chief James F. Nardozzi and members of the Bridgeport Police Department heralded the success of the city’s largest gun buyback program, which to date has taken nearly 700 guns off the streets during eight sessions held since Dec. 21. Finch announced that the program, which took a brief hiatus during the recent snowstorm, will resume on Saturday, March 2.

Funded by individual and business donations, the gun buyback program kicked off on Dec. 21, with $100,000 and $30,000 worth of Food Bazaar grocery gift cards as incentives. Thus far, police have catalogued 656 weapons, and have paid out $70,625 and approximately $2,000 in grocery gift cards. The weapons include several dozen assault-style rifles and numerous other rifles and pistols.

“We have exceeded our expectations, and want to build on this success,” said Finch, who is an advocate for stronger gun control legislation and is a long-standing member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “Thank you to the donors who have made this program possible, and thank you to all of those who have turned their weapons over to our officers. We now have 656 fewer weapons on our streets that are capable of doing harm to an innocent bystander.”

Finch urged members of the community to make a tax deductible donation to the gun buyback fund.

“We would like to see 1,000 guns taken off the streets, but we need the community’s help to make that happen,” he said.

The gun buyback fund is being administered by RYASAP. Members of the public who wish to donate can send a check to RYASAP Gun Buyback Fund, 2470 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06605.

Finch also voiced his support for President Barack Obama’s comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence, which includes closing background check loopholes, banning the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and making schools safer.

Aware of the opinion that gun buy-backs often attract broken or useless weapons, Nardozzi pointed to the large selection of weapons on the table in front of him stating that the majority were “functional and deadly.”

Nardozzi and Finch urged the public to secure all weapons in their homes, lest they should be stolen or fall into the hands of children. Furthermore, it was expressed that citizens should be more aware of gun violence or activity in the community, and are urged to step forward with information.

The next buy-back event will be held at Bridgeport Police Community Services Division on Saturday, March 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Police will offer up to $200 value for a working handgun. People turning in rifles will receive $75. A weapon determined to be an assault-type rifle will be eligible for a higher rate of remuneration. Local grocer, Food Bazaar is offering gift cards as incentives as well.

The department has a “no questions asked” policy that will allow people to turn in weapons anonymously without fear of being prosecuted for illegal gun possession. BB guns and non-working guns will be accepted but will not be eligible to receive payment. Gun dealers are not eligible to participate.

In addition to the city of Bridgeport, the City Council and the Bridgeport Housing Authority, the following individuals and businesses have made significant donations to the gun buyback fund including: Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG); Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder; Stratton Faxon; People’s Bank; Housing Authority; Joseph Luciano; Pullman and Comley; Board of Education; Bridgeport Hospital; St. Vincent’s Medical Center; Aquarion; Berchem, Moses & Devlin; Bridgeport Regional Business Council; Dominion Energy; Bismarck Construction; Cigna; and Food Bazaar.

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