Wells Police Department will be accepting unwanted firearms and ammunition from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 11. The event is part of an effort hosted by the Maine Gun Safety Coalition. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

WELLS — People who may have a firearm that is no longer wanted will have a chance to get rid of it at Wells Police Department on May 11.

The Wells department is the sole York County law enforcement agency joining the Maine Gun Safety Coalition for the statewide gun give back event called Guns to Garden Tools. Eight other police agencies, all in Cumberland County, are also taking part.

Wells Police Chief Jo-Ann Putnam sees the gun give back — which will also include unwanted ammunition — simply as an opportunity for people to safely dispose of items they no longer want.

“If it gives someone an avenue to get rid of a gun they don’t want to sell, and a chance to get rid of old ammunition, fine,” said Putnam. She pointed out examples of people discovering boxes of ammunition or a firearm when clearing out a family member’s home.

“If you don’t want to sell it to a dealer, what do you do with it?” she said. “This is not meant for gun control, it is simply an opportunity for those people.”

According to the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, the program, entitled Guns to Garden Tools is unique to Maine. Once the guns have been turned in to the police departments, the broken down firearms will be sent to Raw Tools, a Colorado metal forging organization. Raw Tools will turn them into garden tools and ship them back to Maine where they will be given to area schools that have gardens.

Maine gun Safety Coalition president William Harwood focused on the safety aspects of the program.

“Even an unwanted and neglected gun sitting somewhere in your house still presents a risk of an accidental shooting, a suicide, or a theft, where the gun can later be used to commit a crime,” he said in a news release.

All firearms collected will be broken down by metal workers, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regulations before being shipped to Raw Tools.

Putnam said the Maine Fire Marshal’s Office has agreed to take ammunition collected that day.

The take back event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday May 11 at Wells Police Department, 1563 Post Road (Route 1), Wells. Because there is ongoing construction at the police station lot, folks should access the public entrance tot he building through the adjacent shopping center parking lot.

Putnam said people need not be Wells residents to participate — those  from other communities are welcome to stop by to dispose of their unwanted firearms and ammo.

“We’ll take it off your hands and get rid of it for you,” she said.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]

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