Monday, April 04, 2011

IMPD Abruptly Cancels Planned Gun Amnesty Event

Democratic mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy's recent criticism of a plan by Mayor Greg Ballard's administration to conduct a gun amnesty event later this month at which people could turn over guns in their possession with no questions asked has raised enough concerns to cause IMPD to call off the event. Kennedy's campaign attacked the plan because it could allow persons who used guns to commit crimes that are still under investigation without allowing ballistic tests to be performed on the guns, thereby destroying evidence and allowing criminals to walk free. The Star's Carrie Ritchie is reporting that Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry recently contacted Public Safety Director to express his concerns with the planned gun amnesty event. Today, IMPD announced it was at least postponing the event for now in response to those concerns.

"On the one hand, we're completely supportive of any effort to reduce illegal guns on the street," Curry said this afternoon. "But nevertheless, we have the responsibility of investigating existing crimes and coordinating with federal agencies to trace how these weapons are ending up on the streets in the first place."

Curry, who said he found out about the event through a press release, said Straub was receptive to his concerns.

According to a press release, IMPD cancelled the event to "address issues concerning forensics and how best to ensure that surrendered firearms were not used in crimes."

Public Safety Director Frank Straub didn't return a call seeking comment this afternoon. Carolin Requiz-Smith, a spokeswoman for Straub's office, didn't respond to multiple emails and a call seeking comment.

The event, which police were hosting in partnership with the Ten Point Coalition and local churches, was intended to allow people to get rid of their guns without scrutiny. Police said they would destroy the guns safely.

Six churches throughout the city had agreed to serve as drop-off locations.

But Curry was alarmed that the police wouldn't be performing ballistics tests or tracing the guns' history to see if they could've been owned illegally or used in a crime.
Ballard recently penned an opinion column for the Star in which he insisted he did not favor amnesty for criminals.

Recently the issue of illegally possessed guns has been a topic of discussion in The Indianapolis Star. Some people think the answer lies with amnesty for criminals, signing a national gun control petition and closing the so-called "gun show loophole." Others have suggested the creation of a special unit within the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department tasked with addressing illegal guns.

Let me be clear. I do not support amnesty programs for gang members, drug dealers or people who use guns in the commission of a crime. I will not sign a national gun control petition, especially one that does not remove a single illegally possessed gun from our streets. Creating a special police unit might score political points, but it detracts from the real police work being done, work that seized nearly 2,000 illegally possessed guns last year.
If a criminal can turn in a gun to police that he used to kill someone without any questions asked, I don't know how Ballard could believe that is not amnesty. "Either he's not sure what's going on inside his public safety office, or he is continuing to mislead the public," Kennedy's communications director Jon Mills said. Thankfully, someone was able to have the good sense to pull the plug on this idea for now. Hopefully, it won't raise its ugly head again.

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