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    A Times Editorial

    Guns and responsibility

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published September 9, 2001


    One way the Tampa community dealt with the murder of three law enforcement officers three years ago was by creating a gun safety program called "Cease Fire Tampa." It was not pro-gun or anti-gun; rather, the message focused on how to handle weapons safely.

    The linchpin of the program is a gun buy-back. Residents who bring an unwanted gun to a collection point receive a gift certificate in return. The buy-back is entirely voluntary. Many who participate have lost their need for a gun. Some have found a weapon; they want the peace of mind to know the gun is disposed of safely.

    The buy-back has been so successful -- 1,300 firearms in 1998; 2,615 last year -- the program has expanded to five other counties: Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota. It's now called "Cease Fire Tampa Bay."

    The event, which takes place Sept. 15, still gives participants $50 gift certificates. Free gun locks are also available. But mainly it teaches our community the responsibility of owning a gun. Call (813) 844-GUN1 for the location of drop-off points.

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