York City Police, district attorney trading gift cards for guns

Jason Addy
York Dispatch

After a summer with more than a dozen shootings — three deadly — the York City Police Department and York County District Attorney’s Office are offering up a trade to take guns off the city's streets.

The two law-enforcement agencies are hosting a gun buyback event at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at the York City Fire Department’s Station No. 5, located at 833 E. Market St. 

York City Police Wes Kahley, Bill Faron, president of the Salem Square Association, and York City Mayor Kim Bracey (not pictured) announce the reopening of a community policing station at the corner of West Princess and South West streets, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016.  John A. Pavoncello photo

Those who turn over their guns to police at the event will receive a $50 gift card to The Villa, a shoe store on South George Street, York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said Tuesday, Oct. 24. 

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There will be a no-questions-asked policy at the event, Kahley said, to not discourage anyone from turning in their weapons. 

York City Police officers will cross-reference the guns' serial numbers with a database of stolen weapons in order to clear those reports and return the guns to their owners, but there will be no other tests done on the relinquished guns, Kahley said.

“We won’t do any ballistic matching or anything like that,” Kahley said, adding that weapons with altered or scratched-out serial numbers “will just be destroyed," as will all of the guns that have not been stolen.

Prevention: Though the gun buyback event was organized in response to a number of shootings over recent months, Kahley said he expects the majority of guns turned in to come from law-abiding citizens, not from those involved in the shootings. 

Instead, the York City Police Department and district attorney’s office are using the buyback event as a prevention measure to keep unwanted, unsecured guns out of the hands of criminals, Kahley said.

The event “won’t affect … the guns that are on the streets right now being used in crime,” Kahley said. 

“The buybacks affect unwanted firearms that are sitting around people’s houses” that could be stolen and used in subsequent crimes, the chief said. 

Kahley said it has been about a decade since the city last hosted a gun buyback event. In April 2007, city residents turned in 57 guns.

With little to compare the event to, Kahley said he unsure of what level of turnout to expect Friday.

“We’re hoping that we have a good response and we go through all the gift cards that we have,” Kahley said. 

With police inviting guns through the doors of the fire station, officers will take extra precautions and work with those turning over their guns to ensure no one is in danger at the event, Kahley said.