When this summer’s hugely hyped “Aim for Peace” gun-buyback program ended in July, Mayor Thomas Menino announced that “the firearms we received were exactly the type of firearms we wanted.” That is, “the kind of weapons that are impacting the streets,” such as high caliber .44s and 45.s, as acting police commissioner Albert Goslin said.
Well, not so much. Of the 1027 weapons turned in during Aim for Peace’s month-long run, just 26 were .44- or .45-caliber guns, according to an inventory provided to the Phoenix under a public-information request. A mere 25 were 9mm semiautomatic handguns, which are among the most common weapons used in shootings.
Instead, the program received lots and lots of cheap, older weapons. In fact, 43 percent of the handguns collected were small-caliber (.22 or .25) — many of which are worth far less than the $200 Target gift certificate that the city offered in exchange.
This may reflect a change on the street. “Back in the day, kids wanted newer guns, shiny 9mms,” says Deputy Superintendent Darrin Greeley; but recently, cops are finding more small-caliber guns on criminals.
They are also finding more revolvers, often of the .38-special type, he says. Greeley suspects that kids are turning back to revolvers because shell casings spit out by semi-automatic pistols are often used for evidence.
The department has not yet entered all buyback guns into the city’s database of crime-scene ballistic evidence, which could help determine whether these were true “crime guns.”
Whether or not the buyback program was effective in deterring gun violence, it has, perhaps, drawn attention to the enormous quantity of guns on the street — guns that, for the most part, were not originally purchased here. After all, only 111 of 1027 the guns turned in appear on the Massachusetts “approved firearms roster” for legal sale in the state.
Meanwhile, more than $100,000 worth of Target vouchers were given in exchange for collected guns — $25,000 of which was donated by the city, the rest by Target, the Boston Red Sox, and other contributors. (Rifles, shotguns, non-functioning guns, and some others were not eligible for the reward.)
Source: Compiled by the Boston Phoenix from Boston Police Department information.
| Handguns || 840|
|Pistols || 320|
|BB, other small|| 49|