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The Boston Globe

Metro

Boston police to launch new gun buyback

After an eight-year hiatus, the Boston Police Department is bringing back a controversial gun buyback program next week, with officials urging residents to turn in their unwanted firearms and receive a $200 Visa gift card.

The revived program, called “Piece for Peace,’’ will start Monday and last indefinitely or until its $100,000 budget runs out, police said. An announcement of the program appeared in large letters on the Police Department’s website Friday afternoon. A link providing details on turn-in procedures, drop-off sites, and amnesty for participants was removed later in the evening.

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Police Commissioner William B. Evans and Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who both pushed to revive the program, have said the gun buyback is just one part of the city’s overall strategy aimed at curbing firearms violence.

Neither Evans nor Walsh could be reached for comment Friday about the program, although both men are slated to launch the effort Monday.

“As one part of a broad antiviolence strategy, we need the community’s support and engagement to make this program a success,’’ Walsh and Evans wrote in the program’s brochure, which was e-mailed to the Globe. “The community needs to take control and do whatever we can to ensure there are fewer guns on the street.”

A spokeswoman for Walsh, Kate Norton, confirmed that the mayor would discuss details of the buyback “in the coming days.”

“The mayor has expressed interest in pursuing a gun buyback program as one tool in the toolbox in addressing the violence in our city,’’ Norton said.

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Michael Patrick MacDonald, a Boston author and cofounder of the city’s first gun buyback program in the 1990s, said buybacks are championed by residents affected by violence who want to get weapons out of the wrong hands. Buybacks also tend to boost conversation about gun crime and empower residents to take a lead with police on the issue, MacDonald said.

“We need more leaders from people on the front lines, all the brothers and sisters who lost their loved ones to prison or the grave,’’ he said. “We need them on the front lines.”

The Rev. Mark Scott, a Dorchester pastor and an associate of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, said buybacks can work along with other initiatives such as jobs for teens, more funding for after-school programs, and direct engagement with perpetrators of shootings.

“For the sake of the team, I’m in,’’ Scott said. “I support because I am serious about playing a role . . . in a broad collaborative that is effective in reducing crime.”

Boston police responded to approximately 250 shootings each of the past five years. In 2013, more than 667 illegal guns were taken off the streets. So far this year, that number is 126, police said.

Gun buybacks have been a staple in urban crime-fighting for more than two decades, but research has concluded they are largely ineffective. Criminologists have found that the buybacks have no impact on gun crime or gun-related injuries and that the programs do not target the guns most likely to be used in violence.

MacDonald and other buyback supporters say the programs have played a part in getting weapons off the street.

In announcing the campaign, Boston police acknowledge on their website the lack of reliable statistics on the direct impact of buybacks on gun violence, but said their aim is to use every available method to stop gun crime.

“We do know that if a gun is turned in, it will not be used in a future crime,’’ according to the online version of the brochure. “This program demonstrates Boston’s ‘Call to Action’ for safer city streets. ‘Your Piece For Peace’ embraces the philosophy that one fewer gun on the street is potentially many lives saved.”

According to the police website, the program will be held from noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday at nearly two dozen drop-off sites across the city, among them police stations, churches, and community centers.

Residents can arrange a private exchange by calling 888-GUNTIPS between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m., the website said.

Police also outlined the criteria that residents must meet to receive amnesty for gun possession and to get a gift card.

Guns must be delivered unloaded. The firearms must be in a clear plastic bag and then placed in another container such as a gym bag or backpack. Ammunition must be placed in a bag separate from a gun, authorities said on the site.

Residents taking the weapons to a drop-off site by car must place the weapon in the trunk. Police will only grant the gift card if the gun is screened by officers and determined to be a working firearm. Police will accept rifles and shotguns, but there will be no financial incentive for turning them in, the brochure said.

Residents do not have to leave their names when turning in the weapons.

“If the protocol is followed, the person dropping off the firearm will not be prosecuted for unlawful possession of that specific firearm,’’ the website said. “Amnesty will not be given for any other crime committed with that firearm or for any other crime committed while in possession of that firearm.”

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com.

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