|TRENTON – Continuing a statewide effort to reduce gun violence by taking deadly firearms out of circulation, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced today that a state-sponsored gun buyback program for the residents of both Hudson and Union Counties will be held on July 12 and 13.
According to Hoffman, there are a total of six planned host locations for the Hudson-Union gun buyback – three in each county. The Hudson County locations include Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Bayonne, Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church in Jersey City and Saint Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Union City. The Union County locations include New Zion Baptist in Elizabeth, the Morning Star Community Christian Center in Linden, and the Shiloh Baptist Church Annex in Plainfield.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman said the Hudson-Union buyback will be conducted in the same manner as seven previous state-sponsored buybacks, the most recent of which was held in Cumberland County. Between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on July 12 and 13, Hudson and Union County residents can turn in up to three firearms “no questions asked” at any of the six 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 Hudson and Union County Prosecutor’s Offices are also contributing forefeiture monies, as are the Union County Police Department and the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
“To date, our statewide gun buyback initiative has taken approximately 12,500 lethal firearms out of circulation,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said during a press conference to announce the Hudson-Union buyback held at the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.
“The vast majority of these weapons have been operable and capable of either maiming someone or killing them,” Hoffman said. “As we all recognize, there are far too many guns on the street and too many people dying as a result of gun violence,” Hoffman added. “I look forward to a day when gun violence is not as pervasive in our society, and we can direct our attention to other critical public safety issues. But we aren’t there yet, and our campaign to stop the needless bloodshed goes on full force.”
“Many firearms are purchased legally and used properly, but now, for any number of reasons, owners may wish to discard them,” said Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park. “A buyback program is a valuable resource for those owners wishing to properly dispose of unwanted guns to prevent them from winding up in the wrong hands and potentially causing harm to others.”
Acting Hudson County Prosecutor Gaetano T. Gregory said, "We endorse the Acting Attorney General's gun buy-back program. Every gun surrendered will provide one less opportunity for that gun to fall into the wrong hands and to be used in a violent crime."
Acting Attorney General Hoffman said he is especially pleased that, as a result of the seven previous State-led buybacks held to date, upwards of 6,000 handguns have been collected and destroyed. Prior buyback events have also led to the collection and destruction of approximately 1,500 illegal guns – firearms with unlawfully high magazine capacities, or weapons that have been sawed-off or otherwise modified.
“It is troubling to contemplate just how much deadly firepower is out there in our communities on any given day just waiting to fall into the wrong hands,” Hoffman said. “That is why these gun buybacks are important. The weapons we buy back are taken off the street -- once and for all -- and 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 domestic argument into a tragedy. And they can never claim the life of one of our brave police officers.”
The Hudson-Union gun buyback event is a cooperative effort involving the Hudson and Union County Prosecutor’s Offices, the Union County Department of Public Safety, the Union County Police Department, the state Division of Criminal Justice, the Hudson and Union County Sheriff’s Offices, the New Jersey State Police, the Bayonne, Jersey City, Union City, Elizabeth, Linden and Plainfield police departments, and the faith-based community in Hudson and Union Counties.
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 Hudson and Union Counties.
Noting that their leadership will be crucial to gaining neighborhood-level awareness and support for the the buyback event, Acting Attorney General Hoffman offered a special thank you today to the six host churches.
While encouraging Hudson and Union County residents to take advantage of the money and amnesty being offered to relinquish their guns, the Acting 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 Hoffman. “The people and agencies you see represented here today have come together for a common purpose -- to create safer neighborhoods in Hudson and Union Counties, and to save lives by getting guns off the streets.”
The Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church is located at 39 E. 22nd Street in Bayonne. Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church is located at 661 Montgomery Street in Jersey City, and Saint Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church is located at 615 8th Street – at the intersection of 8th Street and Central Avenue – in Union City.
The New Zion Baptist Church is located at 800 Flora Street in Elizabeth. The Morning Star Community Christian Center is located at 1009 Chandler Avenue in Linden, and Shiloh Baptist Church is at 525 West Fourth Street in Plainfield.
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.