Over 500 Weapons Turned In By Public
More than 500 firearms were collected at the New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Jamaica last Saturday, Aug. 18, during a gun buy-back initiative held by Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and State Sen. Malcolm A. Smith, it was announced.
Among the weapons recovered were an AK 47, a Tec-9, a Calico 9mm with a 50 round magazine, 245 revolvers, 168 semi-automatic pistols and five sawed-off shotguns.
“Our one-day gun buy-back effort has proven to be a huge success by taking more than 500 weapons out of circulation,” Brown said. “Indeed, it was among the most successful gun buy-back initiatives that we have ever seen to date. To have recovered 509 weapons in the course of six hours is really quite extraordinary.”
“Since its inception in 2008 this program is responsible for taking more than 8,000 guns off our city streets, and by all accounts the gun buy-back Saturday in Queens was one of our most successful,” Kelly added.
The program, sponsored by the District Attorney’s Office, the NYPD and Smith’s P3 Foundation, allowed individuals in possession of illegal or unwanted guns to anonymously trade them in for a $200 bank card at the church.
Functional shotguns, rifles, BB guns and air pistols were exchanged for a $20 bank card.
The bank cards can be used as a debit card or cash and can be withdrawn at any ATM.
Brown noted that the program is one of the initiatives his office and various Southeast Queens elected officials cited last week as part of a nine-point initiative to help stem the increase in gun violence that has caused injury to and claimed the lives of innocent community members. (Editor’s note: See Page 20 for the story.)
According to the latest CompStat statistics, homicides have increased 28.6 percent in the Queens South area in the past year while homicides in other areas of the city have dramatically declined. In addition, shooting incidents in Queens South have risen by 22.2 percent, the third highest jump in the city.
“The gun buy-back program was successful in another sense. It represented, I believe, a turning point in community involvement in the fight against illegal weapons,” Brown added. “It signaled the beginning of a change in the public’s attitude to the message that carrying guns and committing acts of violence is unacceptable; that the public is prepared to support tougher gun laws by, for example, requiring microstamping of shell casings and limiting access to assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips by criminals and individuals with mental illness; working to close down illegal businesses and limiting the hours of all night establishments that are breeding grounds for underage drinking, gang activity, drug trafficking, prostitution and violence; and fostering greater trust between law enforcement and residents of local neighborhoods.”