SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs City Council is mulling a gun buyback program in the wake of a school shooting on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida.
Gun buyback programs operate on a no-questions-asked basis and offer an incentive for gun owners to get rid of guns, which are then turned over to police for disposal.
In December, 19 handguns, two rifles and a shotgun were collected during a gun buyback program at Trinity Lutheran Church in Amsterdam. The 22 people who turned in guns each received $100 gift cards.
Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly said she has reached out to the Rev. Joe Cleveland of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs to host the program.
“In light of what’s happening in the country, I want to take more guns off the streets,” she said.
Kelly said that, while the program is in the initial planning stages, it would likely happen on the congregation’s property at 624 N. Broadway.
“I hope to sit down with [Cleveland] in the next week or so to figure everything out,” she said.
Cleveland said he helped launch a gun buyback program while he was living in Massachusetts.
“It’s an opportunity for folks to find a way of getting rid of guns they didn’t want around the house anymore,” he said.
Kelly said the Saratoga Springs Police Department would also be involved in the program, as they would dispose of the guns that are collected.
Police Chief Gregory Veitch said that, while he had no details to share yet about the program, firearms-related crimes are rare in the city, and to his knowledge the city has never organized a gun buyback program.
“My hope is that we take more guns out of homes and streets, because kids can get ahold of these guns,” Kelly said. “We’re trying to save lives by doing this.”
Though Kelly isn’t sure when the program would take place, she said it would be “sooner rather than later.”