Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Newport plans gun buyback

Federal government provides city $10,000

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — The Newport Housing Authority and Newport police hope to purchase 200 guns through a handgun buyback program backed by $10,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

        Housing Authority Executive Director Mark Brown said Monday that HUD had just approved an application to reallocate $7,000 from the federal drug-elimination program for the gun buyback, with HUD adding $3,000.

        “We don't have a firm date yet for starting the program, but we hope to have it up and running soon,” Mr. Brown said. “We are still working with the (Newport) police department on a collection site. We will pay $50 per gun, which would allow us to purchase up to 200 guns.”

        HUD administers a program called Violence Reduction Gun Buyback Initiative. The program is intended to get handguns off the streets and away from children.

        Police Chief Tom Fromme said his department has a written agreement with the Housing Authority to conduct the buyback and run background checks on the guns that are purchased.

        “We will take possession of the weapons,” Chief Fromme said. “If there is a history and we determine that the gun is stolen, we would find the owner and release it to them. The only way this program can work is if there are no questions asked when the guns are brought in.”

        HUD has provided funds for handgun buybacks in Louisville, Lexington and Frankfort, and officials in those cities have said they are pleased with the results.

        In almost every instance of federal gun buybacks, available funds have been exhausted through firearms purchases.

        After the police have determined that the guns are not stolen, they will be destroyed, Chief Fromme said.

        This is in marked contrast to state laws that require police departments to deliver their confiscated firearms — handguns and long guns — to the Kentucky State Police to be auctioned to federally licensed firearms dealers.

        Several of the state's larger cities, including Louisville, Lexington and Covington, have objected to the statute requiring them to turn over confiscated guns, but they have so far complied.


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