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Tacoma gun drop boxes could be first in the nation

Guns turned in to police are usually disposed of by melting them down, such as with this collection in California. (AP)

Tacoma wants people to drop off their guns like library books.

The City of Tacoma is crafting a new program that would place firearm drop boxes in neighborhoods, away from police presence, in hopes of encouraging people, particularly youth, to anonymously turn in guns.

“It takes out the up-front interaction with law enforcement,” said Melissa Cordeiro, gang reduction project coordinator for Tacoma.

People can already turn in guns to police. Firearms can be dropped off at the station or police can be called to pick them up, anonymously in many cases.

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If successful, the gun drop-off box would be the first of its kind in the country, Cordeiro said.

“They would just have to drop the gun off and later law enforcement would swing by and pick it up out of the drop box,” she told KIRO Radio.

The city is investigating how to successfully operate the program. It is trying to find locations away from police intervention, to encourage people wary of law enforcement to turn the guns in. At the same time, it wants to place them in areas that won’t cause a disturbance.

“It’s definitely something that is controlled access and one way,” Cordeiro said. “You can put something in, but you can’t take something out.”

Tom and Curley imagine how Tacoma came up with the idea for a gun drop box

The boxes need to be big enough to take in a hand gun and even a rifle, but still deny access to anyone who might want to take the firearm out.

“We want to make sure that it is in a safe enough location but also that police are involved,” Cordeiro said.

“We don’t want to make this a target location for rival gang members or for somebody trying to steal a weapon off the street,” she said.

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