The city of Worcester, Massachusetts is asking citizens to bring their weapons to the police department next weekend as part of the city's annual "Goods for Guns Buyback Program." In return for the guns, the city will offer gift certificates, and - a free flu shot.
"City residents, or residents of any other community, may bring their unwanted weapons, unloaded and wrapped in a bag, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday to the Worcester Police headquarters in Lincoln Square, or from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 8 to the Worcester Division of Public Health, 25 Meade St."
Since the program began in 2002, "Goods for Guns" has collected approximately 2,200 guns. Last year 40 guns were collected by the police department. Deputy Chief McGinn said guns that are turned in are destroyed.
The program allows individuals to anonymously turn in "unwanted and unloaded" guns to the police department. In return, citizens are presented with a Wegman's gift certificate. The value of the gift depends on the type of gun. For example, a long rifle earns a $25 gift certificate; handguns earn a $50 gift certificate, and a semiautomatic weapon, a $75 gift certificate.
This year, citizens of Worcester can receive a free flu shot for turning in a weapon. Also, individuals who bring guns directly from home to the police station will be granted amnesty if they are not properly licensed.
McGinn has said, "Come one, come all. We're not asking any names or questions."
The "Goods for Guns Program" is similar to buyback programs across the country:
Evanston, Illinois is also considering a gun buyback program after a high school freshman was shot in September, although city officials are skeptical about its effectiveness:
Sara Schastok, president and CEO of the Evanston Community Foundation says, "Of course, no one is under the illusion that people who intend harm as a way of life are necessarily going to turn in their guns."
The Worcester buyback program seems to be working well so far, though it may be more enticing during difficult economic times to turn in guns for cash.
The flu shot gimmick is the first I've seen and I couldn't help but remember the infamous line from the movie Godfather Part I:
"Leave the gun, take the cannoli" - or in this case, the flu shot.