Response lower than expected in South Jamaica gun buyback

Response lower than expected in South Jamaica gun buyback
By Christina Santucci

A gun buyback in southeast Queens Saturday collected only about 25 percent of the weapons for which funds had been allotted.

The Police Department and Borough President Helen Marshall announced that 55 firearms were turned in during the event, held at St. Benedict of the Moor Church in South Jamaica.

A spokesman for Marshall said the program had $50,000 in funding, and with a $200 bank card given for each gun turned in, there was enough money to give out in exchange for about 250 guns. Those who brought in rifles or shotguns were given a $20 bank card.

Marshall’s chief of staff, Alex Rosa, said the unused funding for the gun buyback will not be available again after the end of the fiscal year, which concludes July 1.

“We will be working with the [Police] Department to see if we can continue to hold gun buybacks in the future,” Rosa said.

Any gun taken off the street is a good thing for the community, Marshall said.

“Every one of these guns could have shot many people,” Marshall said after she kicked off the buyback alongside City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-Jamaica).

Marshall said she had decided to hold the event in the 103rd Precinct because of the frequency of shootings and deaths attributed to gun violence within its borders.

“That’s it — they [the victims] are out of this world,” Marshall said.

The haul of guns turned in included one rifle, 19 semi-automatic handguns and 35 revolvers, according to the NYPD.

One woman brought in a small gun in her handbag, while another carried what appeared to be a rifle wrapped loosely with a black trash bag.

Two men — David Brooks and another who declined to give his name — dropped off a firearm they carried in a Victoria’s Secret bag.

“We just dropped a couple of things off,” Brooks said outside the church.

Brooks said he and the other man had been working in a construction site and found a “small gun” in a hole.

“When I saw it, I jumped,” Brooks said.