Connecticut's statewide gun buyback program aims to prevent tragedies

Police departments across Connecticut offered an incentive Saturday to gun owners with unwanted weapons during the third annual statewide gun buyback day.
Owners donate the firearms anonymously in exchange for perks like Stew Leonard’s gift cards.
“The whole point of this whole program is safety and control,” said Norwalk Police Sgt. Ryan Everts.
“It’s not about taking people's guns away,” Leslie Wetzel of the Wilton Quaker Meeting said. “It's about providing a safe way for people to turn in things that they may not want.”
Norwalk Police received 16 firearms. All the guns received across the state are later destroyed.
The event is sponsored by the Newtown Action Alliance Foundation.
“We have one member who is an uncle of one of the kids that died at Sandy Hook,” said Diane Keefe of the Wilton Quaker Meeting. “He has made it his life's purpose to go around and work on gun safety.”
One of those measures is locking up your weapons in the home.
“It's to keep them safe, and out of reach of curious children,” Norwalk Police Deputy Chief Joe Dinho said.
“Fifty percent of gun deaths are suicides, and then there's a lot of domestic violence that also is gun-driven,” Keefe said.
Organizers say it's as much about the gun buyback as it is installing safe gun practices – including free gun safes for anyone with a pistol permit. It's a message amplified in light of the recent mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine.
“We send our condolences to the families of 18 victims in Lewiston, Maine,” Norwalk Police Chief James Walsh said. “It’s just such a tragedy.”
“It's the most painful reminder that we could all receive just of how little progress has been made,” Wetzel said.
Police want gun owners to know - proper disposal of any unwanted firearms is part of owning these weapons.
“Leaving them laying around, they can get into the wrong hands,” Everts said. “So, this is really the right thing to do, and it's the responsible thing to do.”