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 Middlesex County will be held on September 27 and 28 at three churches in the county.
The three host locations for the Middlesex buyback include Sacred Heart Parish Hall in New Brunswick, the Sayre Woods Bible Church in Old Bridge, and Cathedral International in Perth Amboy.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman said the Middlesex buyback will be conducted in the same manner as nine previous state-sponsored buybacks, the most recent of which were held simultaneously in Hudson and Union Counties. Between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on September 27 and 28, Middlesex County residents can turn in up to three firearms “no questions asked” at any of the three churches and receive a cash payment of up to $250 per weapon, depending on the type of gun and its condition.
Police officers will be stationed at the three 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 Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office also is contributing forefeiture monies.
“These gun buyback programs are important for several reasons. First and foremost, they provide a means of getting dangerous firearms out of circulation before they can be used to take a life,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said during a press conference this afternoon at the New Brunswick Public Safety Building. “We hear a lot about the fact that many weapons turned in during these buybacks are old rifles or so-called ‘attic guns,’ as if that makes them less lethal. All anyone needs to do is read the headlines from across the nation – including our own state – to know that guns left lying around the home are one of the most significant dangers, particularly to children.”
Hoffman said he is pleased that, as a result of the nine previous State-led buybacks held so far, more than 14,000 firearms have been taken off the streets in New Jersey, including more than 6,500 handguns and upwards of 1,700 illegal guns – firearms with unlawfully high magazine capacities, or weapons that have been sawed-off or otherwise modified.
“It’s hard to argue with those numbers, but numbers tell only part of the story,” said the Acting Attorney General. “From what we’ve witnessed, communities are being galvanized by these gun buybacks. People are energized and feel as if participating in these events is making a significant contribution. That’s a result that gets less attention, but it’s very real. Buybacks demonstrate the tremendous power of communities to make a difference by working together toward a common goal – in this case cutting down on gun violence and saving lives.”
The Middlesex County gun buyback event is a cooperative effort involving the Middlesex Couny Prosecutor’s Office, the state Division of Criminal Justice, the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office, the New Jersey State Police, the New Brunswick, Old Bridge and Perth Amboy police departments, and the faith-based community in Middlesex County.
Middlesex County Acting Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey urged county residents to participate in the gun buy-back program.
“Surrendering unwanted weapons guarantees those guns will be kept off the streets and out of the hands of criminals,” Acting Prosecutor Carey said.
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 Middlesex County.
Sacred Heart Parish Hall is located at 115 Commercial Avenue, New Brunswick. (Parking for the Sacred Heart location is on Townsend Street.) Sayre Woods Bible Church is located at 2290 Route 9 South, between Jake Brown Road and Route 516 in Old Bridge. Cathedral International is located at 282 Madison Avenue in Perth Amboy.
Noting that their leadership will be crucial to gaining neighborhood-level awareness and support for the buyback event, Acting Attorney General Hoffman offered a special thank you today to the three host churches.
While encouraging Middlesex 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.
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.