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Orange plans gun buyback program

With an anonymous $2,000 donation to the Police Department, Orange residents can now get rid of unwanted guns — and get some cash in the process.

The selectmen approved Police Chief Robert Haigh’s plans for a local buyback March 30.

“We’re really doing this to help people get rid of guns who have them illegally or who don’t want them in their homes,” said Haigh.

“Our intention is to destroy other guns,” said Haigh. “Our intention is to not put firearms back on the street.” He said police are obliged by law to keep the weapons for at least a month before they can dispose of them, presumably to ensure they weren’t used in commission of a recent crime. After that, they will be disposed of.

Haigh said the guns gathered will either be destroyed or turned over to Village Vault, a wholesale gun dealer the department has used in the past “to eliminate surplus guns,” he said.

Antique or collectible guns will be turned over to Village Vault, which holds state and federal licenses to store and sell guns. According to the company, it sells weapons to other dealers and also runs a weapons storage business for firearms being held in connection with court cases, for example.

Haigh said residents can bring unloaded firearms and ammunition from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to the mobile command center outside the police station at 400 East River St. Haigh said “This is a noquestions- asked event. You bring it in and we’ll take it from you.”

The private donation will allow officers to pay $50 for working long guns (such as shot guns), $75 for working handguns and $100 for all working assault-style rifles. Haigh said police will also accept but will not pay for ammunition and guns that are inoperable.

Haigh said the idea for the program came from a resident who approached him and offered to fund cash rewards for unwanted and illegal guns. Inspired by tragedies of gun violence in Newtown, Conn., and cities and towns around the country, Haigh said the donor wanted to do something to help out his community.

Haigh said the event is an opportunity for people “who have guns illegally and want them out of their possession” as well as for people who have inherited guns they don’t intend to use.

“A lot of people have guns that their grandfather or mother and father had. They’re not interested in being gun owners and they want them out of the house.” Haigh said last weekend’s shooting on East Main Street might have been prevented through the upcoming buyback program. The gun in that incident fired accidentally as the owner, who was unfamiliar with firearms, tried to unload it outside her home. The blast blew out the window of a passing car, slightly injuring the people inside.

Orange follows the lead of other communities initiating similar programs in recent years. Police gathered over 300 guns through Springfield’s buyback program this past week.

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