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Police say firearms collection hits target market

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Police say firearms collection hits target market

YARMOUTH — Police in four communities collected more than two dozen weapons Saturday in a new gun donation program supervised by the Maine State Police.

Unlike a traditional gun buy-back, where the weapons are destroyed, the guns donated Saturday will be resold by police to Howell's Gun & Archery Center in Gray, a federally licensed firearms dealer. Proceeds will go to the Special Olympics.

The Yarmouth Police Department received three weapons in the first 90 minutes, Lt. Dean Perry said.

"Since this is the first time we're doing this, I really have no expectations, but I hope it works out," he said.

By the end of the day, Sgt. Frank Soule of the Falmouth Police Department said the Safe Communites Maine operation netted about 30 weapons, including handguns and long guns like rifles and shotguns.

Police also collected unwanted or unused ammunition, which will be destroyed.

Soule said the majority of those who donated guns were people who had inherited the weapons from relatives.

"We really hit the group we intended to hit: people who had guns kicking around, but didn't know what to do with them," he said. 

According to Soule, the guns will probably sell for about $100 each. 

While gun buy-backs around the country often meet opposition from gun advocates, David Trahan, of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, said he supported the donation event Saturday.

"Our only concern is with buy-backs where guns are destroyed, because it implies that guns are bad," Trahan said. "But this takes unwanted guns, which would otherwise rust or deteriorate, and puts them in a process to buy them and use them and care for them."

In addition to collecting weapons, the program Saturday also provided free gun locks and information about upcoming gun safety classes. 

Besides Falmouth and Yarmouth, weapons were collected at the Cumberland Police Department and the Maine State Police barracks in Gray.

Soule said the program will likely be continued throughout the state.

Noah Hurowitz can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 115 or nhurowitz@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @NoahHurowitz.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the name of Yarmouth Police Lieutenent Dean Perry.