Michael Hirsh, flanked by local police officers, discusses the Goods for Guns program at a press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 13, at UMass Memorial Medical Center.
The Goods for Guns buyback program, sponsored by UMass Memorial Medical Center, has collected more than 3,400 firearms from Central Massachusetts communities since it began 16 years ago, and it is now poised to take many more with the launch of National Gun Buyback Day on Saturday, Dec. 16.
Participating police departments in all six New England states, including those in Boston, Worcester, New Haven, Providence and 18 communities in Central Massachusetts, as well as in San Francisco, will accept guns in exchange for gift cards that day. The event honors the victims of the Dec. 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“An unsecured weapon in the home is a public health menace,” said trauma surgeon Michael P. Hirsh, MD, professor of surgery and pediatrics at UMass Medical School, chief of pediatric surgery at UMass Memorial Medical Center, and medical director of the Worcester Division of Public Health.
Working with the Worcester district attorney and Worcester Police Department, Dr. Hirsh co-founded Goods for Guns in Worcester in 2001, modeled after a program he had launched in Pittsburgh. He is now working with medical colleagues and police across the country to expand the gun buyback program.
“The gun violence problem in America is a public health problem,” Hirsh said. “The blue coat and the white coat together are a great alliance to talk gun sense because we have no ax to grind. We don’t want to see the citizens injured. We come at it from different places but the answer is still the same. If there are unsecured weapons in the home, we are going to find tragedies on a regular basis.”
The goals of the Goods for Guns program are to remove unwanted, improperly stored guns from homes; educate the community about the increased risk of gun-related injuries in the home and the importance of safe gun storage; and to identify individuals possessing improperly stored guns at home and provide them with safety information and alternatives. The program has distributed more than 1,000 trigger locks. During the event, the public can anonymously turn in any operable firearm in exchange for a gift card. Participants are asked to place their unloaded firearms in a bag and bring them to a participating police department.
Learn more about the program in a Facebook Live interview with Hirsh on Thursday, Dec. 14, at 3 p.m. Click here to watch the interview on the UMass Medical School Facebook page.