YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: More than 10,000 firearms have been taken out of circulation throughout New Jersey following 853 no-questions-asked gun buybacks out of Passaic County this past weekend, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced this afternoon.
“It’s a credit to the citizens of Passaic County, as well as the other counties we’ve visited, that we’ve managed to take so many lethal weapons out of circulation,” Chiesa said during a news conference at the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office in Totowa.
As a result, none of those weapons “will be stolen and used in a street crime, to turn a domestic argument into a homicide, to accidentally kill or wound a curious child, or to claim the life of one of our courageous police officers,” he said.
The “vast majority” of firearms turned in during last weekend’s event are “operable and capable of taking a life or maiming someone,” the attorney general said.
Among the weapons collected were 384 handguns and 53 guns that are illegal to own, either because they feature unlawfully high magazine capacities or have been unlawfully modified, he said.
That brought the number for buybacks in six New Jersey counties over the past year to 10,006.
Bergen County: 1,345
Atlantic County: 2,061
Camden County: 1,137
Mercer County: 2,604
Monmouth County: 1,581
Roughly $112,350 in state and county criminal forfeiture funds were spent to buy back the firearms in Passaic County, Chiesa said. There were two drop-off points: Gilmore Memorial Tabernacle Church in Paterson and at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Passaic.
Those who turned in their weapons received up to $250 per gun, with a maximum limit of three.
“There is no way to measure the potential tragedies that have been averted through this initiative,” Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes said.
Throughout the ongoing campaign, Chiesa noted, citizens have “voiced concern about gun violence in their communities, and expressed enthusiasm for ridding their neighborhoods of deadly firearms.”
He emphasized once again that gun buybacks alone won’t solve “the complex and multi-faceted problem of gun violence” but said they work as “an important element of a broader strategy aimed at reducing shooting deaths and shooting injuries in New Jersey.”
“We believe they’re making a real difference throughout our state — particularly in light of the many illegal guns we’ve taken out of circulation,” Chiesa said. “We also believe the majority of New Jersey residents support this program.
“That’s because they want safer communities, and common sense tells them that reducing the number of guns lying around waiting to fall into the wrong hands is one way to achieve that.”
Chiesa thanked Pastor Thomas Farrar of the Gilmore Memorial Tabernacle Church, and Rev. Brando Ibarra of St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church for helping make the buyback possible.
CLIFFVIEW PILOT PHOTO: Mary K. Miraglia, Courthouse Reporter