Maryland begins gun turn-in program Saturday

WASHINGTON – Weeks after Maryland lawmakers passed toughened gun-control measures, turn-in programs are being held in Montgomery County and statewide on Saturday to collect unwanted weapons and ammunition.

“Any Marylander who has a gun that is no longer wanted will be able get rid of it safely, no questions asked,” Attorney General Doug Gansler said.

Gun turn-in locations can be found in 20 counties. Owners do not need to turn in the weapon in the county where they live.

Montgomery County will “take long rifles. We’ll take shotguns. We’ll take handguns of any type,” says State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

Weapons and bullets can be turned in between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Public Safety Headquarters in Gaithersburg, the Montgomery County Fairgrounds and the East County Regional Services Center in Silver Spring.

“We will ultimately melt [guns] down and destroy them, so they’re not available to be used in criminal activity,” McCarthy says.

Montgomery County Sheriff Darren Popkin says people have various reasons for wanting to relinquish a gun.

“It could be a spouse passed away,” Popkin says. “It could be someone who has a gun in their house, but doesn’t know how to rid themself of it and make their house safer.”

For each gun turned in, a donation will be made the University of Maryland’s R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center.

Some jurisdictions offer gun buyback programs, but Montgomery County’s program won’t involve cash.

“Quite candidly, we’re aware in some cases [buyback programs] actually stimulate crime,” says McCarthy. “People actually go out to steal a gun in order to turn it back in for cash.”

Popkin says he’s aware some will offer to buy guns near turn-in locations to sell them for a profit.

“That has happened in different jurisdictions,” says Popkin. “We’ll make sure where we have this strategically set up, that will not be happening.”

Gansler says collected weapons may be processed to see whether they were used in previous crimes.

For a list of turn-in locations, click here.

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