New Haven residents will have the chance to return guns without fear of negative legal repercussions on Dec. 16 at the New Haven Police Department’s gun buyback event.

NHPD announced Wednesday that it will host a gun buyback event on Dec. 16 in conjunction with The Newtown Foundation, an organization founded in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The event will take place from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the New Haven Police Academy. It will give community members a chance to hand guns in to the NHPD, even if they acquired the guns through illegal means. Residents will be given gift cards in exchange for each gun in accordance with the gun’s value.

“New Haven has a collection of some of the most innovative programs for combatting gun violence of any city in the the state of Connecticut,” New Haven Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81 said.

The city of New Haven consistently suffers fewer gun fatalities than other cities in Connecticut, according to Nemerson, who added that those numbers are typically in the single digits in New Haven, while other cities in Connecticut reach double digits.

NHPD partners with the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of New Haven and Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Program each year to host the buyback to help reduce gun violence in the city, according to the NHPD press release about the event. The release said the buyback will give gift cards for American Express, Stop & Shop, Target, Walmart, Kohl’s or Amazon to those who turn in any working firearm. Additional funding for the 2017 buyback event has been raised by Gun By Gun, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization dedicated to taking meaningful action toward preventing gun violence, the NHPD said.

The NHPD hosts gun buyback events as part of its ongoing comprehensive effort to reduce the number of dangerous weapons on city streets, said City Hall Spokesman Laurence Grotheer. The gun buyback is predicated on the idea that when tools of violence are removed from the streets, the likelihood of violence is reduced, Grotheer added.

Nemerson said the gun buyback event is one of many initiatives designed to reduce gun violence and gang activity in New Haven. He cited poverty in New Haven as one of the major causes of such crimes, adding that unemployment also has a major influence on criminal activity. Another technique the NHPD uses is researching gang psychology and trying to understand gang activity and violence through those means in order to stop gang violence, Nemerson said. The NHPD works with the mayor, the staff at the New Haven Police Academy and the Yale Child Study Center to develop multidimensional approaches to combat gun violence in New Haven, Nemerson said.

The New Haven Police Academy is located at 710 Sherman Parkway.

Christina Carrafiell |