‘Gun Buyback’ nets over 900 weapons

| tcimino@queenscourier.com |

The streets of Queens got a lot safer this past weekend – and hundreds of people now have more cash in their pockets.

More than 900 guns were turned in during the borough’s first-ever Gun Buyback Program – and at $200 apiece, that’s more than $180,000.

“I think the money was a factor, because of the economy,” said Reverend Darryl Frazier, whose house of worship, Majority Baptist Church in St. Albans, was one of the six hosts of the program on Saturday, February 21. “It was a good way to make $200.”

In total, a record 919 weapons were collected at six churches in the Rockaways and the southern part of the borough during Queens County’s first-ever Gun Buyback Program. Among the weapons recovered were more than 500 pistols, assault weapons and sawed-off shotguns.

“Our one-day gun buyback effort has proven to be a huge success – far exceeding our expectations – by taking more than 900 weapons out of circulation,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “I think it is fair to say that the citizens of Queens County are safer today as a result.”

According to Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, “Since 2002, the NYPD has taken 5,000 guns for the street through its program of offering $100, no questions asked, to individuals who returned guns to any station house in the city. That’s 5,000 guns over seven years. But over the course of just six Saturdays, we have recovered over 3,000 guns by having them turned in at houses of worship and by doubling the reward to $200 with matching contributions from our district attorneys. It is a life-saving program.”

The Gun Buyback program, jointly sponsored by the district attorney’s office and the NYPD, allowed individuals in possession of illegal or unwanted guns to anonymously trade them in for a $200 bankcard at the six participating churches. Functional BB guns and air pistols were exchanged for a $20 bankcard.

The cards could then be used as a debit card or cash and be withdrawn at any ATM.

“If you get even one gun off the street it will benefit [the community] somehow,” said a Patrol Borough Queens South Community Affairs officer.