Queens Buyback Program Nets More Than 500 Guns
ONE POLICE PLAZA — More than 500 guns were pulled off the streets of Queens last weekend during what supporters Monday called one of the most successful gun buyback events ever.
The six-hour program netted revolvers, assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons Saturday at the New Jerusalem Baptist Church, at 122-05 Smith St. in Jamaica, according to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.
"This program continues to be an example of how police and the community work together to take guns off our streets and ultimately save lives," Kelly said at a press conference inside One Police Plaza on Monday. "Each gun taken off the street is a gun that no longer has the potential to be used to kill."
The program, which was started in 2008, offers up a $200 reward for handguns or assault weapons, and $20 for most other guns, the commissioner said.
People who owned the 509 legal or illegal guns were able to turn them in, no questions asked, and receive a bank card they could then use at a store or ATM, according to the office of Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.
"It was probably one of the most successful buyback programs that we've seen," Brown said.
The cost of collecting the guns totaled $85,000 this weekend, and the NYPD has spent $1.4 million on gun buyback programs since 2008, according to Kelly. The NYPD will melt the guns down and turn them into coat hangars, Kelly said.
The commissioner also noted that the NYPD has a buyback policy all year long.
Smith applauded the community's turnout.
"You saw aunts and grandmothers bringing in guns off the streets that, clearly, they did not own," Smith said. "They were bringing in weapons that I believe belong to some of these bad guys."
The buyback event came amidst increased gun violence throughout the city. Queens in particular has seen an increase in crime over the last year.
But Kelly stressed that the city is on pace to have a record year for safety.
"So far this year, we are on the pace of the lowest number of homicides since John F. Kennedy was president," Kelly said. "Despite these successes, there are far too many illegal guns on our streets."