📷 L-R: Southbridge Deputy Police Chief Jose Dingui and Police Chief Shane Woodson pose with the type of firearm that would be exchanged for a $75 gift card at the annual no-questions-asked buyback event.

By Sarah Champagne, Managing Editor

WORCESTER COUNTY – The police departments of several Worcester County towns will participate in an annual gun buyback program Saturday, Dec. 15. This will be the 17th annual gun buyback event in Worcester County, spearheaded by UMass Medical Center and Dr. Michael Hirsh, medical director of the City of Worcester Department of Health.

At these events, anyone can walk into one of the designated police stations and turn in a gun with the benefit of a “no questions asked” policy.  No photo identification or registration is necessary to take advantage of the program.

Unloaded guns in working condition should be transported in a plain plastic or paper bag to a participating police department (listed below, or click here for the list). The program provides a grocery gift card in exchange for guns at three levels: $25 for a rifle, $50 for a pistol and $75 for an automatic or semi-automatic.

Guns have to be in working order to qualify for the gift card exchange. However, nonfunctioning guns, accessories and ammunition can also be turned in during gun buyback events.

In order to help gun owners store their firearms safely, free gun locks will be given out at the buyback events. You do not have to turn in a gun to qualify for a free gun lock.

During the hours of the gun buyback event, you can also schedule a time for someone from the police department to pick up a firearm at your home if you lack transportation. Firearms must be transported safely, wrapped or placed in a plastic or paper bag.

Seventeen police stations in Worcester county will participate, including Southbridge, Charlton, Auburn, Webster and Dudley (click here for the full list of locations and times). In Southbridge, the police station will accept firearms from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Southbridge Police Chief Shane Woodson describes the gun buyback event as an opportunity for members of the community to dispose of guns that they either don’t want or cannot secure.

“Bring it down, bring it in and we will take care of it,” Woodson says. “No question asked. That’s not what this is about. It’s about giving the public a chance to get rid of unwanted firearms for a variety of reasons.”

The event can be useful to family members of deceased gun owners who don’t wish to be in possession of their loved one’s firearm, or who cannot secure and care for a firearm as needed to comply with the law. A prime example of a person who might benefit from this type of initiative is an elderly widow who doesn’t feel comfortable having possession of a gun that her spouse had before they died.

If you need to turn a gun after receiving a loved one’s firearms or for any other reason, this voluntary event is designed to give people an opportunity to keep their homes safe. It is not designed to target gun owners or to compromise a law abiding gun owner’s liberty, despite some confusion on the nature of the event which sometimes occurs. In fact, the free gun locks that are available at the event are meant to support and incentivize responsible gun ownership.

Gun buybacks will be held at the Southbridge police station from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Charlton police station from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Dudley police station from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Webster police fire station from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Call individual police departments for further questions.

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