Dozens of firearms were taken off the streets of East Elmhurst and surrounding neighborhoods after Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz co-hosted a gun buyback event with the NYPD and elected officials at the First Baptist Church Saturday, Nov. 6.
The buy-back program was the fifth of Katz’s administration. Combined, the events have collected 325 guns.
“The gun violence that our communities have more recently been experiencing may sometimes seem insurmountable, but it is important that we come together as a community to reject that idea,” Katz said. “Every gun that we get off the streets is a potential life saved and a potential tragedy averted.”
Forty weapons were collected during the program on Saturday. People exchanged operable handguns and assault rifles for $200 prepaid cards and iPads while others turned in rifles, shotguns and airguns in return for $25 gift cards.
“Our gun buy-back programs are an integral element in the NYPD’s ongoing intelligence-driven efforts to reduce violence and remove illegal firearms from the city’s streets,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said. “It’s a program that thrives on the sustained collaboration of residents who participate in each of the five boroughs, on the commitment of the department’s prosecutorial partners, and with the support of the New York City Police Foundation. We encourage everyone to please take part in this effort, which is another example of how we can work together as a community, keeping one another safe.”
The First Baptist Church Pastor Patrick Young has hosted a multitude of community events along with Councilman Francisco Moya since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Any opportunity we have to tackle the rise in gun violence means safer communities,” Moya said. “The gun buy-back program is another step towards reducing incidents of violence in our neighborhoods by taking guns off the streets.”
The event was also co-sponsored by Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry and state Senator Jessica Ramos.
“Though we may have varying definitions on what builds true public safety, we can all agree that the gun violence plaguing our community needs immediate and thoughtful attention,” Ramos said. “I’m grateful for the real, tangible impact like today’s gun buy-back have on our neighbors’ feelings of security, and the collaboration between city and state elected officials that made it possible.”
The program was planned in collaboration with the 115th Precinct in Jackson Heights.
“Through this exchange, we are able to work on rebuilding trust between local law enforcement and the people and address some of the material circumstances that lead to tragic instances of gun violence,” Ramos said.