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Rush to Turn in Guns Exhausts Buy-Back Program’s Money With PM-Gun Drop Glance

February 4, 1992

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ A Minneapolis-area cash-for-guns program that was supposed to run for a month took in so many guns in the first five days - more than 4,000 - that it’s out of cash.

A similar program to get weapons off the street in the Louisville, Ky., area took just six hours Monday to spend most of its $50,000 budget - $37,000 - on 760 handguns, rifles and shotguns.

″Some lines had as many as 40 people at a time,″ said Bob Yates, a spokesman for the Jefferson County, Ky., police department. ″If the pace continues, this could be one of the shortest buy-out programs on record.″

The Hennepin County program in the Minneapolis area had brought in 4,287 guns, no questions asked, at a cost of $50 each, as of Monday. But the startup fund of $150,000 is exhausted, said county attorney Mike Freeman.

The initial budget, covering promotion as well as gun purchases, came from forfeited drug money and corporate and other donations. Freeman said he’ll turn to corporate sponsors to keep the program going until the end of the month.

Similar programs have been tried in other cities. St. Louis authorities took in nearly 7,500 guns in a month, Philadelphia police collected 1,044 in two weeks, and San Francisco brought in 1,630 in about two months.

The Minneapolis program is aimed primarily at handguns. The guns are not being traced and will be melted down.

A father and son turned in the youth’s handgun, and a man turned in a sawed-off shotgun he found under his granddaughter’s bed, suspecting she was keeping it for a boyfriend who might be a gang member, authorities said.

The program has backing from the police chief and the police union, despite claims it will give youngsters an excuse if caught carrying guns and take weapons out the hands of law-abiding adults instead of criminals and youths.

It has already exceeded the 1,200 firearms seized by Minneapolis police in raids last year, police said.

The Minneapolis haul is an ″impressive feat,″ said Gwen Fitzgerald, spokeswoman for Handgun Control, an anti-gun lobby in Washington.

″There are 201 million guns out there and over 20,000 handgun deaths a year,″ she said. ″We’ve seen what the basically unrestricted flow of guns will do, so maybe fewer guns will help make us safer.″

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