Gun buyback aims to make summer safer

State Sen. Malcolm Smith (c.) announces a new initiative to get illegal guns off the streets at a news conference at City Hall. Photo courtesy of Sen. Malcolm Smith's office
By Ivan Pereira

The police, clergy, big business and elected officials announced this weekend that they will be cleaning the city streets of illegal guns to make communities safer this summer.

A massive, five-borough gun buyback program will be initiated in the next few weeks that will pool the resources of various sectors, according to state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans), who is spearheading the program.

The P-3-Public, Private, Partnership Gun Buy-Back Program was needed, according to the elected official, not only because crime rates are higher during the warm summer months in parts of the city, such as southeast Queens, but also because anti-violence organizations could not do a similar program without help.

“Killings and other types of violence continue to be a challenge for inner-city and other communities across America,” Smith said in a statement. “According to data tables regarding crime in the United States prepared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York state had the third-highest total for gun-related murders in the country as of earlier this year.”

Several law enforcement officers are on board with P-3, including the NYPD and the Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan district attorney offices. Earlier this month, the Bronx held a gun buyback program that collected 354 weapons, including an Uzi submachine gun.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has touted the initiatives in the past because they not only got the guns out of the wrong hands, but also helped strengthen the relationship between the authorities and the neighborhood.

“The partnership between clergy and the NYPD, supported by our district attorneys, has proven to be a powerful alliance in getting guns off our streets in record numbers,” he said in a statement.

Despite the successes of the buybacks in the past, they have been hard to set up due to the funding required to pay the contributors. During the Bronx buyback, each person who turned in a weapon received up to $600 in the form of a prepaid debit card.

Smith came up with a way to fill that financial void.

The Related Cos., a real estate company, and Deutsche Bank will be taking part in P-3 and help to pay for the $300-per-gun rate, according to Smith’s office.

“As a cornerstone participant in the P-3 gun buyback program, we are proud and honored to be working with the New York City Police Department, the Police Foundation and Sen. Smith’s office on this critical effort to maintain New York’s position as the safest large city in the United States,” Donna Milrod, managing director of Deutsche Bank Americas, said in a statement.

Smith’s office said the buybacks in Queens will be held in churches around southeast Queens and the specific locations are still being determined. The dates of the program are still being worked out as well, the senator’s office said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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