PAWTUCKET — With the topic of gun violence on everyone's minds, two city councilors have come up with a targeted plan to reduce the amount of firearms on Pawtucket's streets. It involves holding a gun “buy-back,” a concept that has proven successful in other communities.
Councilor-At-Large Albert Vitali and District 5 Councilor Jean Philippe Barros are spearheading the citywide gun buy-back event, which they hope to hold sometime in March at a centralized location. The two have spoken to Pawtucket Police Chief Paul King, and the Police Department will be coordinating the event. The gun buy-back has also been given the go-ahead by Mayor Donald Grebien and his administration, Vitali said.
Vitali said the subject came up one night after a City Council meeting during a discussion he had with Barros about the recent school shootings and gun violence gripping the nation. He noted that Barros' district, in particular, has seen its own share of incidents involving guns and gun violence. The gun buy-back, he said, “helps by creating awareness and gets the whole community involved in a pro-active campaign to take guns off of our streets.”
Barros said he considers the most important aspect of the event as promoting awareness of the terrible toll that gun violence can take on families. He noted that this is especially important for young people, who may be trying to gain respect or are involved in gang activity and then find a gun lying around and are tempted to use it. If there is just one less firearm available, that could cut down on an act of violence, he said.
“I hope this small gesture makes the city of Pawtucket and other streets around the state a little safer,” Barros said.
Those turning in working guns will receive a gift card that can be used for cash. He said the value of the gift cards offered is yet to be determined, but typically involves something like $50 for a pistol or handgun and $75 for a rifle. The buy-back will be open to individuals only (no gun dealers).
The two councilors are asking for local businesses to sponsor and support the event through financial donations that will be used to provide the gift cards. Vitali said that several potential sponsors have already indicated an interest in helping out, including Med Tech Ambulance, Fastcash Pawn and Checkcashers, Inc.; Sullivan's Public House/Doherty's East Avenue Irish Pub, and Bristol County Savings Bank.
Any business wishing to donate to the gun buy-back event is asked to contact Councilor Albert Vitali at 286-1830 or Councilor Jean Philippe Barros at 359-2254.