|TRENTON – Continuing a statewide effort to combat gun violence by taking deadly firearms out of circulation, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced today that a state-sponsored gun buyback program for residents of Monmouth County will be held at churches in Asbury Park and Keansburg on March 8 and 9.
According to Chiesa, the Monmouth County gun buyback will be carried out in the same manner as three successful, state-sponsored buybacks held previously in Camden city, Trenton and, most recently, five municipalities in Essex County.
Between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on March 8 and 9, Monmouth County residents can turn in their firearms at two churches – the Shiloh Community Fellowship Ministry in Asbury Park and the Saint Ann Catholic Church in Keansburg. Residents can turn in as many as three firearms of any type “no questions asked” and receive up to $250 per weapon, depending on the type of gun and its condition. Police officers will be stationed at the two churches to collect and secure guns.
During a kick-off press conference today at the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office in Asbury Park, Attorney General Chiesa said his office will again be paying for the gun buyback with criminal forfeiture monies obtained by its Division of Criminal Justice.
Chiesa said that, to date, buybacks sponsored by his office have netted more than 5,000 firearms – the vast majority of them operable – and that upwards of 1,000 guns taken in were illegal because they featured unlawfully high ammunition capacities, had sawed-off barrels or were otherwise modified. He also noted that a buyback in Essex County last weekend netted, among other extraordinarily lethal weapons, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle similar to one used in the Newtown, Connecticut mass shootings.
“These buybacks are important because, as we all recognize, there are just too many guns out there and too many innocent people dying or being critically wounded as a result of gun violence,” said Chiesa. “Going back to each of the three buybacks we’ve conducted so far, it was startling to observe the tables filled with handguns, sawed-off shotguns, semi-automatic rifles and other weapons we’d collected. It was startling because it suggested how much lethal firepower is out there in circulation, just waiting to fall into the wrong hands, or be used for the wrong purposes, at any given time.”
During the two-day Camden County buyback held last December 14 and 15 in Camden city, more than 1,100 guns were taken in at two church locations. During the Mercer County gun buyback held last January 25 and 26 in Trenton, more than 2,600 guns were turned in. During the Essex County buyback held Feb. 15 and 16 in Irvington, Montclair, Newark, East Orange and Orange, more than 1,700 guns were collected.
In all three buybacks, the vast majority of the weapons – more than 90 percent – were determined to be operable by law enforcement armament experts.
“We’ve truly been encouraged by the results of our three buyback events so far – both in terms of the number of guns collected, and the incredible support shown by members of the community,” said Chiesa. “Obviously we’re hoping to replicate the success of our prior buybacks here in Monmouth County, but this effort isn’t about numbers, and it’s not about competition. Any guns we take off the street will be a win for public safety.”
“It’s a simple concept: If we remove just one gun from the streets, we remove another chance for gun violence. But multiply the number of guns that will come off the streets through this program and we are not just eliminating another possibility for gun violence but wiping clean some of the grief and agony gun violence inevitably brings to a great number of families and the communities where gun violence persists,” said Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
According to Chiesa, this fourth state-sponsored “Guns for Cash” buyback event is a cooperative effort involving the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, New Jersey State Police, the state Division of Criminal Justice, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and the faith-based community in Monmouth County. In addition to publicizing the gun buyback campaign through today’s press conference, the two-day “Guns for Cash” event will be promoted through local radio, newspaper, bus transit and other advertising in and around Monmouth County.
Noting that their support and leadership are crucial to gaining neighborhood-level backing for the buyback event, Attorney General Chiesa issued a special thank you today to Rev. Mark White of the Shiloh Community Fellowship Ministry in Asbury Park and Father Daniel Cahill of the Saint Ann Catholic Church.
He encouraged Monmouth County residents to take advantage of the money, and amnesty, being offered to relinquish their guns. He also reminded residents that New Jersey has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, and that the crime of Unlawful Possession of a Gun is a second-degree offense punishable by between five and 10 years in prison.
“The people gathered with me here today have come together for a common goal -- to save lives and create safer communities by getting guns off our streets and out of our neighborhoods,” said Chiesa. “I urge the residents of Monmouth County to join us in this effort by selling back their firearms when we come to Asbury Park and Keansburg next month.”
The Shiloh Community Fellowship Ministry is located at 142 Dewitt Avenue in Asbury Park. Saint Ann Catholic Church is located at 267 Carr Avenue in Keansburg.
Residents with questions about the gun buyback program can call the Attorney General’s Citizen Services unit at (609) 984-5828 or visit www.nj.gov/guns.