BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) ─ In an effort to save lives during one of the toughest years to date, the Bristol Police Department is hosted a gun buyback program on Saturday.
The gun buyback took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the department headquarters and is sponsored by the Bristol Health Equity Zone and the Matthew Patton Foundation.
The event is described by the police department as a “suicide prevention effort and a harm reduction initiative.”
“While the Town of Bristol does not suffer from a problem with gun violence or firearm-related criminal activity, it is not immune from the effects of self-harm events and instances of depression and suicidality,” the police department said in a statement.
Matthew Patton’s mother, Lynn Patton, tells 12 News she lost her son to suicide upon soon after he returned home from a deployment while serving in the U.S. Military.
Ever since her son died, Lynn said she has been focused on finding mental health solutions for both servicemembers and their families.
“I don’t want another mother to face what I have faced,” Lynn said, adding that the gun buyback was scheduled just in time.
“This is the time of year this happens, especially with the military,” she explained. “We must educate people that the guns, if they are not wanted, should come off the streets to make it a safer place for everyone.”
Through the gun buyback program, the police department hopes to remove potential means of harm from the homes of residents who are struggling.
“Suicide is becoming an increasing problem,” Emily Pearce-Spence of the Bristol Health Equity Zone said. “We’re doing all we can with a multi-layered approach to reduce suicide in our community.”
The police department is offering financial compensation for unwanted firearms, including:
- Up to $200 for functioning handguns and certain long guns
- Up to $100 for functioning rifles and shotguns
- $500 for firearm that is stolen or connected to a crime
The police department said nonfunctioning weapons and older items will also be accepted for turn-in and a reward.
All of the firearms that were turned in will be tested through department means and by the R.I. State Crime laboratory. The person who is turning in the firearm was required to complete a brief registry for tracking purposes.