NEW BEDFORD — The New Bedford Police Department collected guns of all sizes Saturday as part of the Guns for Groceries program.

The program, organized by UMass Dartmouth's Center for Civic Engagement, is a reincarnation of previous gun buyback programs sponsored by the late Rev. Dr. Robert Lawrence. Residents turning in firearms were in exchange given Market Basket gift cards worth up to $75 per gun, regardless of working order.

Don Canto, a 95-year-old World War II veteran, turned in two guns, saying he sees the program as a positive for the community.

"We should have a lot more of these," Canto said of the program. "(The guns) might go for cash better, but (gift cards) are just as good. I live alone, anyhow."

Not everyone was as enthusiastic about the event, however. Bill Bachant of Lakeville turned in two rifles he didn't want anymore. Bachant, an avid gun collector, says some of the weapons he saw that had been turned in looked quite valuable, and deemed it a shame they would eventually be destroyed.

"The thing is you have someone that's a history buff that's dying for that one piece," said Bachant. "And that fits their collection. It's never going to be used in violence or anything else. It's probably never even going to be shot."

"Everybody's got their thing. Cars, firearms, whatever. Firearms don't necessarily connotate violence."

The Guns for Groceries program served to get unwanted firearms off the streets before they fell into the wrong hands.

The New Bedford Police Department says a total of 85 guns and over 2,000 rounds of ammunition were submitted as part of the event. Of the exchanged firearms, over 30 were handguns.

A sister-event was also held in Fall River.

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420