Elected leaders, public safety officials praise community response, call for common-sense gun reform legislation.
Residents from across Rhode Island today turned in 186 firearms in a statewide gun buyback coordinated by Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare in conjunction with Central Falls Mayor James Diossa and Bristol Town Administrator Antonio Teixeira.
"I am pleased that today's gun buyback was such a success and I thank Commissioner Pare, Police Chief Hugh Clements and the members of the Providence Police Department for their efforts today and every day," said Mayor Taveras. "Gun buybacks are one way for local governments to remove unwanted firearms from our streets. If even one accident or tragedy is avoided, today's program was well worth it."
The privately funded gun buyback was held from 10a.m. to 2p.m. at locations in Providence, Bristol and Central Fall. Public safety officials from Pawtucket, Lincoln, and Cumberland also participated in the coordinated program.
In all, 99 firearms were collected in Providence, 49 in Bristol and 38 in Central Falls. Of the firearms that were collected, 97 were rifles and 89 were handguns. All firearms were collected anonymously.
"Today we worked together to remove unwanted firearms throughout Rhode Island. I thank Central Falls Police Chief James Mendonca and the Pawtucket, Lincoln and Cumberland Police Departments for their participation in Central Falls on this successfully coordinated statewide effort," said Mayor Diossa.
In return for operable firearms, authorities distributed Visa gift cards ranging from $50 to $200, depending on the make and condition of the firearm. The total value of gift cards given away was $12,650.
All the firearms collected were logged at the Providence, Central Falls and Bristol Police Departments and will be destroyed.
Mayor Taveras thanked several businesses that provided contributions to privately fund today's gun buyback: SIMS Metal Management, Hudson Companies, CVS/Caremark, Waterson Terminals, ProvPort, Navigant Credit Union, Omni Group and RGB Architects.
Taveras, Diossa, Teixeira and other municipal leaders in Rhode Island have discussed ways to work together on the issue of illegal guns and gun violence following the mass shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
This week, the United States Senate is expected to consider a package of legislation to strengthen the national background check system, impose stiff penalties for gun trafficking crimes and provide new resources for school security and violence prevention programs. The Senate is also expected to consider a new ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in a separate amendment.
Mayor Taveras supports these bills, and he believes the leaders of Rhode Island's cities and towns will be most effective if they coordinate local efforts and speak with one voice in Washington, D.C. and at the State House.
"I applaud Mayor Taveras, Commissioner Pare, the other local leaders, members of law enforcement, businesses and additional community partners who have made this buyback a success as part of their determined commitment to making our communities as safe as possible," said Congressman James Langevin, a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in Congress. "Events like today's can also help build the momentum needed in Rhode Island and across the country to enact sensible reforms like those passed this past week in Connecticut. Whether it's providing the opportunity for residents to safely turn in unwanted firearms or passing responsible gun safety legislation that makes it more difficult for the wrong people to obtain weapons, it's clear that we can take meaningful steps to prevent future tragedies like what happened at Sandy Hook without infringing upon legitimate Second Amendment rights."
"Today's gun buyback was an effective way to get unwanted guns off our streets and enhance the safety of residents across the state of Rhode Island," said Congressman David N. Cicilline. "We have a responsibility in Washington, D.C. to do our part, and I will continue to fight for common-sense legislation to reduce gun violence."