Montgomery County asks residents to hand over their guns

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Montgomery County residents handed over 111 guns, 11 BB guns, 10,000 rounds of ammunition and a grenade at Saturday's statewide gun turn-in day, according to county police spokeswoman Lucille Baur.

Among the 111 guns were 68 hand guns, 27 rifles -- including at least one AK-47 -- 15 shot guns and a tiny pen gun, Baur said. In addition to the guns, police also received a sword and two canisters of tear gas, which were turned in by a former D.C. police officer who told police they left over from riots in 1968.

"A successful day," Baur said.

Organized by state Attorney General Doug Gansler in coordination with local police departments, the event included 24 stations across the state where residents could anonymously hand over their unwanted firearms and ammunition.

All of the weapons collected will be inspected to see if they have been reported stolen or can be linked to a crime before being destroyed by the police, said David Paulson, spokesman for Gansler.

Montgomery County will also make a donation to the University of Maryland Medical Center's R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center for every gun it received, according to Baur.

But unlike recent gun buyback events in Howard County in March and in Prince George's County and Baltimore in December, officials offered no financial incentives for people to hand over their weapons.

Montgomery County has not offered cash or giftcards for a weapon in recent memory. Even at the last turn-in event more than 20 years ago, no financial incentives were offered.

"Incentives can frequently capture people's attention, and while the money isn't overwhelmingly -- as it's traditionally done -- overwhelmingly the biggest factor, our emphasis was to give people an opportunity to voluntarily and safely turn over their weapons," Paulson said.

Individual motivations for turning over the weapons included desires to keep guns out of the hands of young children and fears that a home burglary could cause a gun to end up in the wrong hands, officials described.

Germantown resident Blaine Clarke turned in a BB gun, some hunting ammunition that is no longer legal to use and an old "Saturday night special" .38 caliber revolver that belonged to his dad and he said is probably not registered.

"I've had that forever in the closet," he said of the revolver. "Just time to get rid of stuff.

Others offered similar reasons for turning over their weapons, and many didn't know much about the guns they were handing in.

"The woman who brought in these two long guns, she didn't know how much they were worth," said Montgomery County Sheriff's Office Deputy Steve Austin, who was collecting guns at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg. "But she knew they were guns, and she wanted to get them out of her house."

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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