Gun buyback program in Bergen this weekend

PUBLIC SAFETY: New Jersey’s no-questions-asked gun buyback program comes to Bergen County this Saturday and Sunday, April 13-14, at 11 churches and temples in eight Bergen County towns.

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

  • YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Bergen County’s two-day gun buyback program was such a success — producing 1,307 weapons in all — that Sheriff Michael Saudino had to call Prosecutor John L. Molinelli yesterday for more money. “We ran out,” Saudino told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. “It reached the point where we actually had to turn people away.” READ MORE….

“Gun violence knows no bounds,” said Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino, whose office is spearheading the effort with support from County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli.

“Intentional violence and accidental discharges involving firearms can destroy families and communities,” Saudino told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. “If we can take just one dangerous weapon out of our homes or off our streets, we can make Bergen County a safer place for all residents.”

Those who turn in the firearms can receive up to $300 for each — varying from $20 for non-operational weapons to $80 for rifles and shotguns to $100 for handguns, and $300 for automatic assault weapons and machine guns.

Firearms experts and officers from the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office will examine and secure all of the weapons at each site (For locations, see BELOW).

Officers will help people complete voluntary surrender forms, which include a general description of each firearm, time and date of surrender, and amount of compensation provided. Complimentary trigger locks and gun safety information will also be provided at each location.

NOTE: All firearms should be carried unloaded in a closed and fastened case, gun box, securely tied package, or locked in the trunk of your vehicle. Ammunition should be transported in a separate container. Officers will be on hand to help carry everything inside. MORE INFO: Contact BCSO’s Community Outreach Unit at 201-336-3540.

The last gun buyback in Bergen produced 708 firearms, including two assault weapons and scores of handguns, rifles and shotguns.

Funded by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office with money seized from criminal activities, the program this time is expected to produce bigger numbers, thanks to a strong public relations campaign.

The effort has steadily picked up steam with major collections statewide, including more than 1,700 firearms — nearly 95% of them operable — turned in by Essex County residents earlier this year. The total includes 70 firearms that are illegal to own because they feature unlawfully high ammunition capacities, have sawed-off barrels or are otherwise modified, state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said.

Last year, a gun buyback in Camden produced what was then the most in a single New Jersey haul — 1,137 firearms — the same week of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, CT.

The figures were topped in Essex and Mercer counties, with a total of six buybacks these past several months boosting the total number to nearly 10,000.

SEE: NJ gun buyback program hits 5,400 weapons, coming to Bergen

Many people statewide who have sold back the firearms said they were afraid the weapons might be stolen or end up in kids’ hands with tragic results.

Meanwnile, Chiesa warned that gun buybacks alone “can’t solve the complex and multi-faceted problem of gun violence,” but he said they do serve as “an important aspect of a larger strategy to get firearms out of communities and reduce the number of shooting deaths and injuries.”

State and country criminal forfeiture funds have been used to buy back the firearms, Chiesa said.

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