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Marla Goldberg-Jamate & Dr. Ann Cooper-Ciccarelli: Despite shutdown, groups push for firearms safety

To the editor:

At this strange and stagnant time when many federal government buildings are shuttered, and Congress has proved itself unable to enact commonsense gun controls, a small group in the Pioneer Valley has organized an event that could make homes and neighborhoods safer.

On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at both the Northampton and Greenfield police departments, the first “Help Save A Life” Valley Gun Buyback will be held. Anyone wishing to dispose of a working firearm can bring it unloaded to either police station, and turn it over anonymously with no questions asked. Gift cards worth $50 will be given for handguns and $100 for assault rifles. A local foundry will destroy guns received.

The Northwestern district attorney’s office, the Hampshire County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Baystate Medical Center, Northampton Area Pediatrics, Massachusetts State Police, the Claire Bateman Trust and Clinical and Support Options all helped to bring the event about by devoting time, energy or financial resources. They were joined by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America members, local banks, psychologists and suicide prevention advocates. Fundraising went on for months to provide the gift cards, while police devised plans for safe gun collection and disposal. Buyback proponents have spoken to local media about gun-related accidents, homicides and suicides. More than 30,000 people are killed by firearms yearly in the U.S., half of them between ages 18 and 35; and homes with guns are five times more likely to experience the suicide of a household member. Meanwhile, 68 percent of suicides among people ages 15 to 24 are committed with guns, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While local elementary schools plan and hold “shelter-in-place” emergency drills, we, as mothers of young children, applaud the buyback effort. Although the enactment of an assault weapons ban, and laws requiring criminal background checks are our greatest goals, buybacks can reduce the number of guns already in society.

Getting guns away from youth and reducing potential thefts can help prevent gun violence and suicide. We urge any gun owner with an unwanted weapon, or who believes that their gun poses a hazard for anyone in their household, to take advantage of this important opportunity.

Marla Goldberg-Jamate

Dr. Ann Cooper-Ciccarelli

Amherst

The writers are members of the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

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