Last weekend's snowstorm had one near-casualty: the "Goods for Guns" weapon buyback program, which was held at five locations in Allegheny County. Still, says group President Lt. Philip Dacey, a Pittsburgh police officer, they garnered 150 guns and have high hopes for Dec. 13, the second and final drop-off day.
The program, begun in 1994, is focused not so much on preventing crime as preventing accidents involving guns that the owners may not even have wanted in the first place. The program offers $50 grocery store certificates for handguns, $25 for each shotgun turned in -- no questions asked, no names taken. The group also offers gun locks for people keeping their guns. A $500 certificate is raffled among all those who participate in the buyback.
The group's newest location, in Braddock, drew only 10 guns, but Dacey says that's common for a fresh pickup spot - and for the group's first weekend. "Goods for Guns" was started by several pediatric surgeons who had seen the effects of gunshot wounds on kids.
"Our target audience are the people who have them laying around -- they inherited them, they don't want them," Dacey says. "Just don't leave it lying around for 20 years until somebody opens a drawer and finds it -- some kid or someone with a mental problem."