From Klein’s ShopRite:
FOREST HILL, MARYLAND, DECEMBER 15, 2012: Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland funded and sponsored a “Gun-Buy-Back” program in Baltimore City on Saturday, December 15, 2012, wherein the Klein family gave a $100 Klein’s ShopRite Gift Card for every firearm turned in, resulting in 461 weapons being collected in one day. Turn-in was anonymous, with no questions asked, and only actual firearms were accepted — the program did not collect pellet guns, paint-ball guns or BB guns.
The 461-weapon response was overwhelmingly greater than either the police or Klein’s ShopRite had anticipated, probably largest single gun turn-in day ever within Baltimore City, with many of the citizens who turned in weapons mentioning the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut, the day before, as the reason they wanted to get guns out of their homes. Although initial reports of the gun buy-back program mentioned mostly rifles and shotguns being turned in, in fact the weapons deposited were a large assortment of “long guns” and hand guns. All the turned-in weapons will be destroyed by the Baltimore City Police Department.
“Both we and the police were amazed to see so many modified ‘long guns,’ being turned in, including sawed-off shotguns, pump-action shotguns and shotguns with shoulder straps, just the sort of weapon that could be concealed under a coat,” says Michael J. Klein, Vice President of Klein’s ShopRite. “As well, there were about as many different kinds of hand guns as you could ever imagine,” he adds.
According to Michael Klein, at least a dozen people turned in weapons and refused the gift card reward. “They just wanted the guns out of their homes,” he says.
Since the firearms turn-in was held in Baltimore City, most of the weapons came from inside the city limits, but not all. “We had people coming in with weapons from as far away as Joppatowne, Aberdeen, Glen Burnie and Randallstown,” Michael Klein also states.
“I think there was a heightened awareness due to the tragedy in Connecticut. People seemed aware of the danger of having guns in the home. Perhaps more significant, it was obvious to me that a lot of the people who brought the weapons in were not educated in gun safety or safe weapon handling — there were a number of guns turned in that were still loaded! Even the police had trouble in a few cases with jammed or improperly maintained guns,” Michael Klein says.
According to Howard S. Klein, Vice President and General Counsel of Klein’s ShopRite, “People were thankful that the program was offered. People were dramatically and visually upset at what had happened in Connecticut and many expressed their grief as they deposited their weapons. A gun in the home does no one any good — food in the pantry is what people need. So this was an opportunity to do some good on both sides — removing a danger, and increasing a benefit, at the same time,” Howard Klein adds.
Klein’s ShopRite is considering sponsoring more such programs in the other locations served by its stores, including possibly Harford County, Maryland, where 6 of its 8 stores are located.
“Although we have not reached out to other police agencies or departments in other municipalities as yet, we intend to start that process right now, and in the months ahead” says Marshall Klein, Chief Operating Officer of Klein’s ShopRite. “Many of our staff and family worked hard today helping this program succeed, and we thank them and appreciate their assistance,” Marshall Klein adds.
Marshall Klein also states that “many of those turning in weapons appeared unaware of gun safety. How to handle any weapon – loaded or unloaded. That was exactly why the cooperation with the Baltimore City Police presence was appreciated. They checked all presented weapons for ammunition and safe handling even for those waiting in line. The goal was safety. Because the turn-in was anonymous, we believe it encouraged many the opportunity to dispose of weapons in the home without question or fear of repercussions,” Marshall Klein concludes.
“This is just one aspect of what the Klein Foundation does for the communities,” says Andrew P. Klein, President of Klein’s Shoprite. “We create programs beneficial to the people we serve, beyond just buying guns back with ShopRite gift cards, as important as that is. The ShopRite mission includes many different kinds of outreach to the community, including the Partners in Caring program, which just from Klein’s ShopRite alone results in $80,000 going to the Maryland Food Banks each year. Thanks to Saturday’s success, we hope to now talk with some major Baltimore-area foundations about partnering with us in the future to benefit the people. Our Klein’s Family Foundation raises funds just so that we can present these type of community awareness and initiative programs,” Andrew Klein states.
Retired Klein’s ShopRite President Ralph Klein, when hearing the total of guns collected, was absolutely amazed at the level and quantity of the firearms turned in “I was astonished — absolutely astounded!” Ralph Klein stated. Other members of the Klein’s ShopRite organization present at the gun buy-back included Sarah Klein, who led over a dozen Klein’s employees in helping at the event, and Mike Basher and his staff of Uplift Solutions, who partner with Klein’s ShopRite in their Perring Parkway location, and who have sponsored several similar weapons-return programs in the Philadelphia area.
For more information on Klein’s ShopRite and ShopRite community efforts, please visit www.ShopRite.com.