County Leaders and Activist Urge Residents to Turn in Unwanted Guns
Residents who turn in guns at Saturday's event will receive $100 and a free gun lock.
County Executive Ken Ulman and Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon shared the podium on Friday with a family member of a victim of accidental gun violence to ask residents to turn in unwanted guns on gun buyback day.
McMahon said police will give people $100 each for guns brought to the Dorsey Building at 9250 Bendix Road in Columbia from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Police said individuals turning in guns will remain anonymous and up to three guns can be turned in for money, although police will take as many guns as a person brings.
On turning in weapons, Ulman said, “If you don’t think you need a [weapon], even if it’s specifically secured… now is the time, you get $100, bring it on in.”
The money to pay for the guns is coming from funds seized in drug investigations.
“We’ll take any type of firearm out there,” said Chief McMahon, “and we are using drug dealer money to pay for that, frankly. We think that’s a good use of those funds.”
The two county leaders were joined by Mati Chareonvaravut, a local resident and relative of Tanun Wichainaraphong. Wichainaraphong was 13 when he was accidentally killed by a .22 caliber rifle in April of 2000 after being shot by his 15-year-old friend in Ellicott City.
The 15-year-old was showing Wichainaraphong and another friend his uncle’s rifle, when the gun fired, striking the 13-year-old in the head, and killing him, according to Chareonvaravut.
“We just feel the gun buyback safety day is a step in the right direction for all Howard County residents,” said Mati Chareonvaravut at the event. “It targets people who voluntarily choose to give up their guns.”
Chareonvaravut talked about his cousin being killed and said, “What if that uncle had just kept a properly secured gun with an operable trigger lock?”
In addition to buying unwanted guns, police will also be offering free gun locks to anyone who attends the event, whether you turn in a gun or not.
Both Ulman and McMahon said they didn’t have any expectations for how many guns will be turned in, but Ulman said, “We’re very excited to see what the response is.”
The process of dropping off guns was explained by police like this:
- Residents are asked to put their gun(s) unloaded and unlocked in the trunk of their car.
- Police will then remove the gun(s) from the trunk, while the gun owner sits in his or her car.