A proposal for Darien to host a gun buyback program is apparently off the table.
During Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting at Town Hall, First Selectman Jayme Stevenson — who last week floated the idea of the town hosting its first ever gun buyback event, in the wake of the tragic school shooting in Newtown — reminded that residents can also turn in unwanted weapons through the Darien Police Department's ongoing "Lock It or Leave It" program.
Stevenson said through the free program, which has been in place for a number of years, residents can get rid of unwanted firearms at anytime, simply by bringing them into the police department or by having an officer come pick them up. In addition the program furnishes free trigger locks to those residents who wish to keep their firearms safe.
Although the program does not offer residents cash for their unwanted firearms, it nevertheless gives them a safe and easy way to get rid of weapons they do not want or need.
"Thankfully Darien is not plagued with stolen guns being used to commit crimes, so the 'no questions asked' gun buybacks used in bigger cities probably wouldn't result in illegal guns being turned in to us," states a police press release that was issued about 90 minutes after the meeting. "We do know, however, that people may have guns they no longer want and we thought it best to let people know there is a way to safely dispose of them."
As per the release, disposal of a firearm may be accomplished by either dropping it off at Darien Police Headquarters, 25 Hecker Avenue, or by calling the Police Department Detective Bureau at 203-662-5330 and making arrangements to have it picked up by an officer.
During Monday's meeting, Stevenson pointed out that a resident would still need a carry permit in order to legally transport the firearm to police headquarters. Residents who do not have permits, but are looking to get rid of old guns, should call the department to have them picked up, she said.
What's more, residents who bring guns to be disposed of should leave them in their car after they arrive at the police station, and inform the desk officer that they have a weapon in their car to be turned in.
"The Police Department has found that firearms that are handed down or no longer have any value to the owner oftentimes pose a hazard because they may be improperly stored, misused or stolen," the release states. "Turning in an unwanted gun to the Darien Police Department is a good solution."
During the board's meeting last week, Lovello said he supported the idea of a gun buyback program and added that he would look into the specifics before getting back to the board with a recommendation.
Stevenson did not say that a gun buyback program was off the table — but said the ongoing "Lock It or Leave It" program, which does not cost the town any money to operate, was a good alternative.
In related news the board unanimously adopted a sense of the meeting resolution stating its position on gun control.
The resolution states that in response to the tragic school shooting in Newtown, the board "acknowledges that deterring future horrific crimes of this nature requires a holistic approach to safety, mental health awareness, and support, as well as meaningful gun regulation... "
In addition the board "supports the enactment of sensible state and federal legislation requiring effective background checks on all persons purchasing firearms and restricting the commercial availability of military grade assault weapons, military grade ammunition and high capacity magazines."
"From what I read — and I am trying to read extensively on this topic — these seem to be universally appealing types of changes that folks across the nation might like to see," said Stevenson, who last week said she opposed the idea of the board adopting such a resolution, since the crafting of gun control legislation was not in its purview.
"I do strongly support the notion of preserving constitutional rights and I think that debate will happen at the federal level," she said. "Whether those types of changes will be constitutionally supported I don't know... But I think this represents the will of most... and I see no downside to us adding our voice to this debate."
Selectman David Bayne, who originally proposed that the board adopt some sort of resolution in support of stricter gun control, pointed out that the board's approval of the resolution comes on the one month anniversary of the tragedy.
"As we know there is a national discussion on this right now — and I think it is important that this not just be a discussion among the politicians but also a conversation that the country is taking as a whole — a grass roots discussion — in people's living rooms and at work around the water cooler," Bayne said. "And I think it is important thing for the Board of Selectmen to be on record saying things need to change. We can't have another Newtown — it's just not acceptable in modern day society."
Selectman John Lundeen echoed Bayne's sentiments.
"I'm pleased that we're able to do this in the spirit of small town non-partisanship...," he said.
Stevenson said Chief Lovello and Town Attorney Wayne Fox reviewed the resolution before it was brought to the full board for approval.