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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Guns for groceries

In efforts to curb gun violence, city gun buyback program is getting legs

by Sam Inglot

Thursday, July 12 – Mayor Virg Bernero and police officials announced today they are confident a new “Guns for groceries” program will be ready to go Aug. 1, though details are still murky.

Bernero said the idea of the program would allow citizens to trade a gun for a $100 gift card for groceries. The goal is to keep guns that may be used in crimes off the streets.

In earlier media reports, Bernero said the program would cost $50,000 – now he says the city can run a “very successful program” at $25,000. The money is being raised through donations from the community and businesses. He said they would need $10,000 to get the program started; $7,000 has already been donated.

The program specifics are still being developed by Lansing Police Chief Teresa Szymanski and community partners.

The mayor said the program is two-pronged. First, the hope is that guns will be taken off the street. The second part is to create dialog in the community about gun access and violence.

Along with the prospective buyback program, there will also be heavier enforcement of curfew laws for teenagers. Szymanski said the curfew for anyone 12 and under is 10 p.m. and midnight for those 16 and under. Tickets and a ride home will be given to anyone in violation of curfew. Ticket costs will be determined by a judge.

The goal of all this, the mayor said is to keep people, especially young folks, safer.

“I do not want to attend another visitation for a homicide victim in this community,” he said. “I do not want to visit another family member at the hospital whose loved one has been the victim of gun violence. I pray to God I have attended the last such meeting – that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

Bernero doesn’t believe “hoodlums” or “crooks” will willingly turn over their firearms, but the program can be effective in getting carelessly handled guns out of homes – guns that are often stolen and used in crimes.

Donations can be sent to:

“Gun Buy-Back Program”

Lansing Police Department

ATTN: Accounting Services

120 W. Michigan Ave. Lansing MI 48933

517-483-4800

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