By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
For the first time in the city’s history, the New Albany Police Department in conjunction with Mayor Jeff Gahan’s administration will conduct a firearms buy back program.
The event will be held from noon to 8 p.m. on Friday at the former Ekin Avenue Recreation Center at 1721 Ekin Ave. The program is available solely for New Albany residents, and proof of residency will be required before a gun can be turned over to the city.
The police department is overseeing the safety and security of the event, and has pledged to “take all steps necessary to ensure anonymity.”
Residents will receive $200 cash for turning over an operational handgun, rifle or shotgun. The city will pay $300 for assault weapons with funds garnered through private donations and money appropriated by the New Albany City Council for quality-of-life initiatives.
“This is a no-questions-asked program,” stated NAPD Chief Sherri Knight in a news release Friday. “All weapons that are turned in will be destroyed by the department, and we are also asking that all weapons that citizens wish to turn in are unloaded.”
In a phone interview Friday, Gahan said last week’s mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn., played a role in the timing of the event. However, the city had planned to hold a gun buy back program before the tragedy that resulted in 28 deaths including the killings of 20 children, he continued.
“This is something that we’ve been curious about for a little while,” Gahan said. “Obviously, recent events have probably made it happen sooner than later.”
It will be interesting to see what the net result of the buy back event will be, he continued.
“Even if we just pick up a couple of weapons — a couple of handguns that people aren’t using and they’d like to dispose of — I think we’ve provided a valuable service to the community.”
Authorities vowed that at no time will someone’s personal identification be linked to the gun they turn in. For more information, contact NAPD Maj. Keith Whitlow at 812-948-5364.