TRENTON – Continuing a statewide effort to reduce 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 Cumberland County will be held at three churches – one each in Vineland, Millville and Bridgeton -- on June 7 and 8.
The three host locations for the Cumberland County gun buyback include the Word of Life Christian Worship Center in Vineland, the Cornerstone Community Church in Millville and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Bridgeton.
According to Chiesa, the buyback will be conducted in the same manner as six previous, state-sponsored buybacks, the most recent of which was held in Passaic County.
Between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on June 7 and 8, Cumberland County residents can turn in up to three firearms “no questions asked” at any of the church locations and receive cash payment of up to $250 per weapon, depending on the type of gun and its condition.
Police officers will be stationed at the churches to collect and secure the guns. The Attorney General’s Office is paying for the buyback with forfeiture funds obtained by its Division of Criminal Justice. The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office is also contributing forfeiture monies.
“So far this statewide buyback initiative has taken in more than 10,000 guns -- the vast majority of them operable and capable of ending a life – at no cost to New Jersey taxpayers,” Attorney General Chiesa said during a press conference to announce the buyback at the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office in Bridgeton. “I urge the residents of Cumberland County to join us in making our communities safer by coming out the first weekend in June and selling back their unwanted firearms.”
Chiesa said he is especially pleased that, as a result of the six previous buybacks sponsored by the Attorney General’s Office to date, approximately 5,000 handguns have been collected, along with 1,200 illegal guns – firearms with unlawfully high magazine capacities, or weapons that have been sawed-off or otherwise modified.
Chiesa listed an AK-47 assault rifle, two Tec 9 firearms with 32-round magazine capacities, and a sawed-off shotgun with a double pistol grip among the illegal firearms taken in during the most recent buyback in Passaic County. Prior buybacks have yielded, among other lethal weapons: an AR-15 rifle similar to the gun used in the Newtown, Connecticut shootings; two Hi-Point semi-automatic assault rifles like those used in the Columbine shootings; two Uzis, a shotgun disguised as a nightstick and a 12-gauge shotgun with a “streetsweeper” drum cartridge capable of holding 12 rounds of ammunition.
“It is sobering to contemplate the amount of lethal firepower that’s out there in our communities just waiting to fall into the wrong hands,” Chiesa said. “That is why these gun buybacks are important. The weapons we take in are melted down. They can never be stolen and used in a street crime. They can never kill a curious child. They can never turn a traffic dispute into a tragedy, and they can never claim the life of one of our brave police officers.”
“We are not suggesting that buybacks are a single, stand-alone answer to society’s complex gun violence problem,” Chiesa added. “But this much is irrefutable: a gun that no longer exists can’t ever be used to kill or main someone. It’s that simple. And we’re pleased to see that, as we travel around the state, many New Jersey residents are embracing this common-sense line of thought and turning in their firearms.”
The Cumberland County gun buyback event is a cooperative effort involving the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, the state Division of Criminal Justice, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, the New Jersey State Police, the Vineland, Millville and Bridgeton police departments, and the faith-based community in Cumberland County.
In addition to today’s announcement, the two-day “Guns for Cash” event will be promoted through local radio, newspaper, bus transit and other advertising in and around the county.
Noting that their support and leadership are crucial to gaining neighborhood-level backing for the buyback event, Attorney General Chiesa offered a special thank you today to Pastor Baron McCoy of the Word of Life Christian Worship Center in Vineland, Pastor Ralph Graves of the Cornerstone Community Church in Millville, and Rev. Ellen Rutherford of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Bridgeton.
While encouraging Cumberland County residents to take advantage of the money and amnesty being offered to relinquish their guns, the Attorney General also reminded residents that New Jersey has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws.
He said the crime of Unlawful Possession of a Gun is a second-degree offense punishable by between five and 10 years in prison.
“Unlawful possession of a firearm is a serious matter and, consistent with our commitment to protecting communities from gun violence, we will prosecute such offenses vigorously,” said the Attorney General. “The people and agencies you see represented here today have come together for a common purpose – to create safer neighborhoods in Cumberland County, and to save lives by getting guns off the streets.”
The Word of Life Christian Worship Center is located at 425 North 6th Street, Vineland. The Cornerstone Community Church is located at 1200 North High Street, Millville. St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church is located at 186 East Commerce Street, Bridgeton.
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.