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Sheriff's department to host gun amnesty day Friday

PLATTSBURGH Those in possession of illegal weapons will be given the chance to turn them over to authorities with virtually no questions asked. The Clinton County Sheriffs Department will host its first Handgun Amnesty Day at the department this Friday, May 9, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sheriff David N. Favro, who made the announcement at a press conference Wednesday morning, stated the day is being held as part of a kick-off to National Police Week, which will be celebrated May 11-17. Sheriffs deputies will seek basic information from those who turn in unregistered handguns or other illegal weapons in order to maintain a record of how the weapon came into possession. However, submissions may be made without fear of reprisal, said Favro. Were not looking for investigation tips, were not looking for charges, said Favro. Our main mission in this effort ... is to make Clinton County a much safer place for everybody to live. The general public could come into possession of illegal handguns in various ways, said Favro. Some may possess one unknowingly such as a new homeowner who finds a gun left behind by the previous owner, while some may have knowingly received one by illegal means. Whatever the reason, the department wants them, said Favro. People need to understand that [being in possession of an unlawful weapon] willingly, without the proper permits and registration, can constitute a crime and also puts them and any occupants of their home in serious jeopardy, said Favro. When people break in to homes and commit burglaries, very often they steal handguns, they steal any other type of firearm that may be in the dwelling and it poses a threat to the person who owns the property and also to law enforcement. District Attorney Andrew J. Wylie said the alternative for a person to willfully turn in an illegal handgun is to potentially face prosecution for being in violation of the law. Those who knowingly keep an illegal handgun may be charged with criminal possession of a weapon, a felony. In order to avoid legal confusion, the best thing to do is to make arrangements with the sheriffs department to turn over questionable weapons, said Favro. Those wishing to turn in a handgun must first make sure the weapon is not loaded, and its chamber is empty, if it has one. The gun should be placed securely in a case in the trunk of the vehicle in which it will be transported, so that it will be free of movement. Upon arrival, those bringing the weapon to the department for disposal are advised to leave the weapon in the vehicle and enter the department to summon an officer. The officer will then be responsible for retrieving the weapon as safety precaution. Once collected and the transaction is properly documented, the guns will be destroyed. That is the safest way for everybody to be able to handle this situation, said Favro. The department will also issue $10 gift certificates to Gander Mountain to those turning in guns, courtesy of the outdoor recreation store. Anyone unable to bring their handgun to the sheriffs department located on McCarthy Drive north of the city may contact the department to make arrangements for officers to come to them. In that scenario, however, the department will need to collect more information from the person handing over the weapon in order to determine the safety of the transaction. There will be some safety precautions that can seem a little bit intimidating to some people, but we want to make sure that doesnt avoid them from keeping potentially dangerous firearms off the streets, said Favro. It only takes one to actually get into the hands of the wrong person and create total chaos and loss of life. Every 57 hours, a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty, said Favro. In many cases, the deaths are directly related to the use of an unlawful, unregistered handgun. Our efforts are to hope we can take some of the unlawful handguns off the streets and make Clinton County a much safer place not only for our residents and guests, but also for fellow law enforcement officers that protect and serve Clinton County, he said. As National Police Week continues, the department will join other local law enforcement agencies at Champlain Centre this Saturday to host free public safety programs such as distributing handgun locks, performing car seat inspections and issuing child safety identification cards. The events will be held in the parking lot of Gander Mountain beginning at 10 a.m. Entertainment will be provided in the afternoon by the Fraternal Order of Police Pipes and Drums Band.

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