PORTLAND — Nine cities and towns from Brunswick to Wells are looking to turn guns into plowshares.

“Throw them out and clean up your home,” Yarmouth Town Councilor Tim Shannon said Monday about the May 11 Guns to Garden Tools drop-off program that will collect old, unwanted or unused weapons and turn them into garden tools.

The program, which will have local police departments collecting guns from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., was announced in Portland City Hall news conference attended by law enforcement leaders and elected officials.

Patterned after a 2018 gun giveback day in Yarmouth, this year’s program adds the element of turning the unwanted guns into tools that will be distributed to area schools for use in their gardens, according to the Maine Gun Safety Coalition.

Participating departments include Portland, South Portland, Brunswick, Yarmouth, Falmouth, Gorham, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and Wells. The departments will accept guns from residents and nonresidents.

Shannon said collected guns will first be run through the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives database to ensure they are not being used somewhere as evidence in a court case.

Coalition Executive Director Geoffrey Bickford said collected guns will then be disabled, using ATF guidelines that can be found online at bit.ly/2ZItGWz, and either shredded, torch-cut or melted.

Bickford said the destroyed guns will then be sent to Colorado-based Raw Tools, which forges the metal into gardening tools.

Anyone concerned about how to handle or unload the unwanted guns should call their local police department, he added.

“Falmouth’s gun giveback program lets all residents turn in unwanted firearms without judgment or fear of repercussion,” Town Councilor Amy Kuhn said, adding the department will also be giving away trigger locks on May 11 to promote gun safety at home.

Portland Acting Police Chief Verne Malloch said his department is pleased to be taking part, and is always open to people who want to turn in guns.

“There really is no safe way to throw away a gun,” Malloch said, comparing the May 11 event to the drug disposal days that local and state law enforcement agencies have twice a year.

Falmouth Police Chief John Kilbride said his department may see four or five weapons turned in annually, but a giveback day they had in the past brought in 30.

There is no goal for the number of collected guns, Bickford said.

“Any firearm taken in that is unwanted is considered a success,” he said.

Drop-off spots for participating departments are 85 Pleasant St., Brunswick; 325 Ocean House Road, Cape Elizabeth; 2 Marshall Drive, Falmouth; 270 Main St., Gorham; 109 Middle St., Portland; 246 U.S. Route 1, Scarborough; 30 Anthoine St., South Portland; 1563 Post Road, Wells, and 200 Main St., Yarmouth.

David Harry can be reached at 780-9092 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Police Chief Verne Malloch, in a Portland City Hall press conference Monday, April 29, promoting a May 11 gun give-back: “There really is no safe way to throw away a gun.”

Falmouth Town Councilor Amy Kuhn said police on May 11 will also be giving away trigger locks to gun owners.


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