|TRENTON -- Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced today that, as a result of last weekend’s two-day gun buyback in Passaic County, the State has now removed more than 10,000 firearms from the streets of New Jersey.
“It’s a credit to the citizens of Passaic County, as well as the other counties we’ve visited, that we’ve managed to take so many lethal weapons out of circulation,” Chiesa said during a press conference at the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office in Totowa. “This statewide buyback initiative is an excellent example of the good that can happen when law enforcement works in partnership with the community.
“Thanks to the strong desire of New Jersey residents to make their neighborhoods safer,” Chiesa said, “there are 10,000 fewer guns out there to be stolen and used in a street crime, to turn a domestic argument into a homicide, to accidentally kill or wound a curious child, or to claim the life of one of our courageous police officers.”
According to the Attorney General, Passaic County residents turned in a total of 853 guns last weekend during the Friday-Saturday buyback held at Gilmore Memorial Tabernacle Church in Paterson, and at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Passaic.
Among the guns collected were 384 handguns and 53 guns that are illegal to own, either because they feature unlawfully high magazine capacities or have been unlawfully modified. Illegal guns collected in Passaic County included: two Tec 9 firearms with 32-round magazine capacity; an AK-47 assault rifle; two M1 rifles, one with a magazine capacity of 20 rounds, the other with a magazine capacity of 30 rounds; a sawed-off shotgun with double pistol grip, and a a 12-gauge, double-barreled, sawed-off shotgun.
The total number of firearms obtained in Passaic County brought to 10,006 the number of guns taken in so far through six state-led buybacks.
A buyback held in Camden County in December yielded 1,137 guns. A buyback in Mercer County in January brought in 2,604 firearms. A February buyback held in Essex County brought in 1,770 guns. A buyback in Monmouth County in March yielded 1,581 weapons, and a second March buyback, conducted in Atlantic County, brought in 2,061 guns.
According to Attorney General Chiesa, a total of approximately $112,350 in state and county criminal forfeiture funds were spent in Passaic County to buy back firearms – the vast majority of them operable and capable of taking a life or maiming someone.
Chiesa said he was especially pleased that, through the half-dozen buybacks conducted throughout New Jersey to date, the State has managed to take approximately 5,000 handguns out of circulation, as well as upwards of 1,200 illegal guns.
The Attorney General noted that, throughout the ongoing buyback campaign, residents in the host counties have voiced concern about gun violence in their communities, and expressed enthusiasm for ridding their neighborhoods of deadly firearms. He acknowledged that gun buybacks alone won’t solve the complex and multi-faceted problem of gun violence, but called them an important element of a broader strategy aimed at reducing shooting deaths and shooting injuries in New Jersey.
“There is no question that gun buybacks are part of the overall solution,” Chiesa said. “We believe they’re making a real difference throughout our state -- particularly in light of the many illegal guns we’ve taken out of circulation. We also believe the majority of New Jersey residents support this program. That’s because they want safer communities, and common sense tells them that reducing the number of guns lying around waiting to fall into the wrong hands is one way to achieve that.”
“Without any doubt the gun buy-back program was a tremendous success,” said Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes. “The efforts of all those who were involved, from the Attorney General to local law enforcement, working hand in hand with the community, demonstrate the positive effect such cooperation can produce.
“We have 853 guns that have been removed from homes where those guns were not needed or wanted. This program allowed citizens to safely turn over those guns without any questions being asked. There is no way to measure the potential tragedies that have been averted through this initiative,” Valdes added. “The hard working citizens of Passaic County do not tolerate gun violence and the accompanying loss of life. Those weapons are no longer accessible to individuals who purposely or accidentally discharge them and take a life. As Prosecutor of Passaic County, I applaud the efforts of all who participated with this successful gun buy-back program.”
The Passaic County buyback event was a cooperative effort involving the Attorney General’s Office, the state Division of Criminal Justice, New Jersey State Police, the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, the Passaic Police Department, the Paterson Police Department, the Paterson Police Cease Fire Unit, the faith-based community in Passaic County and a variety of community volunteers.
Noting that their support and leadership were crucial to gaining neighborhood-level backing for the buyback event, Attorney General Chiesa thanked Pastor Thomas Farrar of the Gilmore Memorial Tabernacle Church, and Rev. Brando Ibarra of St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church for helping to make the Passaic County gun buyback a success.
Those who turned in their weapons during the “no questions asked” buyback were paid up to $250 per gun, and the maximum number of guns that could be turned in was three.