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Boston plans gun buybacks after shooting death of 9-year-old

BOSTON (Reuters) - Boston plans to launch a gun buyback program in a bid to reduce shootings following the death last week of a 9-year-old boy who was shot by his 14-year-old brother in an apparent accident, Mayor Marty Walsh said.

Walsh, who took office last month, said he was still developing a specific plan, including how much would be paid and how collection would work, with the city's newly appointed police commissioner, William Evans.

"It's a short-term solution," Walsh told reporters on Saturday. "We need help from the community, we need help from these people to let us know where these guns are, who has these guns, so we can get them off the street."

Boston has seen a spike in fatal shootings this year, with eight firearms homicides reported as of February 2, up from two for the same period last year, according to Boston Police Department data. The figure does not include Friday's shooting of the 9-year-old boy, whom authorities have not identified.

Other major U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, run periodic buybacks, which aim to reduce the number of guns in circulation and to decrease accidental shootings and theft of guns, which are then used in crimes.

The buybacks are not without controversy. Last year, Arizona lawmakers tried to prohibit cities from destroying guns collected in buybacks, saying they should be resold to raise revenue, a measure that advocates of the buybacks argued ran counter to their goal of having fewer guns in circulation.

Advocates of gun rights, which are protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, argue that increased gun ownership would reduce crime by causing criminals to fear the consequences of violent action.

Walsh last week joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an organization founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Walsh's predecessor, Thomas Menino. Bloomberg's successor, Bill de Blasio, has also joined the group, which lobbies for restrictions on gun ownership.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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