Skip to main content

Donors spawn Connecticut gun buyback after mass shooting

By David Ariosto and Ross Levitt, CNN
December 30, 2012 -- Updated 1343 GMT (2143 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • This year's funds -- more than $130,000 -- were made possible mostly by private donations
  • City officials say they plan to hold the event every weekend until money runs out
  • More than 200 guns having been collected in the first two days
  • Officials say they have since paid out more than $22,000 in the exchanges

Bridgeport, Connecticut (CNN) -- Tables filled with handguns, shotguns and rifles packed a police building in Connecticut's most populous city, where a gun buyback program drew scores of gun owners -- many of whom said they were motivated to get rid of their weapons in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

But unlike other buyback events, the funding that allows these purchases in Bridgeport -- more than $130,000 -- is almost totally comprised of private donations, according to mayoral spokeswoman Elaine K. Ficarra.

City officials say they plan to hold the event every weekend until the money runs out, with more than 200 guns having been collected in the first two days.

"We've seen an outpouring from the community since Sandy Hook in all manners, from teddy bears to cash," said police Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr.

L.A. gun buyback yields rocket launchers
L.A. residents trade guns for groceries
Bullet-proofing kids
Newtown United takes on gun violence

Officials say they have since paid out more than $22,000 in the exchanges, snagging powerful weapons such as the AR-15, the same kind of gun used to kill 26 adults and children on December 14 in the neighboring Newtown school.

"These guns could have created victims," said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. "We know if we can reduce the number of weapons that are available through breaking into people's houses and grabbing guns, we are a safer society."

Police say they are offering $75 for rifles, up to $200 for handguns and potentially as much as $400 for assault-style rifles.

Last year, a lack of funds prompted city officials to cancel the program, which was subsidized in 2010 by the Bridgeport Housing Authority. But this year's turn to private money seems in line with other donation-based programs that have caught on elsewhere.

On December 15, an event in Oakland, California nabbed nearly 400 guns off the street after making use of a $100,000 donation from Keith Stephenson, owner of a local medical marijuana dispensary, according to police spokeswoman Johnna Watson.

On the same day in San Francisco, city officials said a private donor-based event proved so successful that police were forced to issue IOUs.

Still, many larger cities such as New York use government money, which authorities say also may be gaining traction.

In Los Angeles this week, officials moved up their annual Mother's Day buyback program due to the Sandy Hook shooting, netting more than 2,000 weapons, including two rocket launchers.

And yet gun sales have surged nationally as enthusiasts rush to purchase weapons out of concern of possibly tighter regulations ahead.

The FBI has recorded 16.8 million instant background checks so far this year. In 2011 -- a record year -- the FBI conducted nearly 400,000 fewer.

CNN's Ross Levitt reported from Bridgeport, Connecticut. David Ariosto reported from New York City.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 2030 GMT (0430 HKT)
Though Congress hasn't passed any gun reform laws in the two years since the Sandy Hook massacre, there's one senator who's made it his mission to push for changes.
November 23, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
Adam Lanza was an isolated young man with deteriorating mental health and a fascination for mass violence, according to a report released by a Connecticut state agency.
December 14, 2013 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
Horror struck Newtown, Connecticut, in such a disturbing way that the nation still struggles with its impact a year later.
June 8, 2013 -- Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT)
Fifty miles from Newtown, workers hate that their products fall into the wrong hand. But the Second Amendment is sacred here.
Rabbi Shaul Praver says people in Newtown have grown weary of syrupy condolences.
June 8, 2013 -- Updated 1118 GMT (1918 HKT)
Congress may have defeated tighter gun laws, but states have been passing bills of their own in the wake of Newtown
Details continue to emerge about what precisely happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Here is a timeline of events that compiles the latest reporting.
An interactive tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
May 25, 2013 -- Updated 0512 GMT (1312 HKT)
The public school district will receive $1.3 million to help the community recover from the , U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced.
March 29, 2013 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
Police released new documents related to the shootings last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, but a motive for the attack by the troubled young man remained elusive.
January 15, 2013 -- Updated 1626 GMT (0026 HKT)
His parents remember Dylan Hockley as such a happy child.
December 19, 2012 -- Updated 1517 GMT (2317 HKT)
Amid the chaos that first-responder Ray Corbo witnessed on Friday, there is one image that he will never forget.
December 20, 2012 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)
In many ways, Josh Stepakoff's childhood came to an abrupt halt at 10:49 a.m. on August 10, 1999.
December 20, 2012 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
When Lauren Rousseau's boyfriend wakes up, he can smell her perfume.
December 18, 2012 -- Updated 1530 GMT (2330 HKT)
Placing yourself in the path of flying bullets to protect innocents. It's a job description fitting for a soldier or police officer, but not for a school teacher.
ADVERTISEMENT