By Patrick Donachie

A gun buyback program held in southeast Queens Saturday took a total of 89 weapons out of circulation and off the streets, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

“The Queens Gun Buyback initiative is another example of the partnership that exists in this city between police, prosecutors and the communities that we serve to improve the quality of life of our residents and to lower the level of violence in the city,” Brown said.

The buyback program took place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Evangel Temple, located at 227-10 Merrick Blvd. in Laurelton. According to the DA’s office, police recovered 46 revolvers, 21 semi-automatic pistols, assault weapons, rifles, shotguns and BB guns as a result of the buyback.

People with legal or illegal guns were allowed to trade in each weapon for a $200 American Express gift card, and all transactions were to be kept completely anonymous, with no questions asked. Prior to the buyback, the DA released a statement asking people interested in exchanging the weapons to bring them in a paper, plastic bag, or shoe box when they took them to the location. The NYPD also mandated that if the weapons were being brought to the location by car, they had to be stored in the trunk.

People were able to hand in as many firearms as they wanted, but there was a maximum allotment of three pre-paid cards. In addition to the DA’s office and the NYPD office, the event was co-sponsored and co-funded by Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), who lauded the high success rate of the buyback program.

“Bringing the gun buyback to District 31 was a success, once again taking dozens of weapons off the street to make Queens a more secure place to live for residents and police officers,” he said. “I look forward to partnering with District Attorney Brown and the NYPD on the next one.”

The 89 weapons recovered were a boon for the NYPD and marked an increase in successful buyback transactions from last year. A Daily News investigation in December found that there were only 88 successful gun buybacks throughout all of 2015.

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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