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

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

PUBLIC SAFETY: New Jersey’s no-questions-asked gun buyback program picked up steam with the announcement today by state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa that more than 1,700 firearms — nearly 95% of them operable — were turned in by Essex County residents this past weekend.

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, Chiesa said.

That brings the total to 5,400 collected during three state-led gunbacks — including more than 1,100 in Camden County and more than 2,600 in Mercer.

The program comes to Bergen County next month. CHECK BACK WITH CLIFFVIEW PILOT FOR MORE DETAILS.

The haul included more than 1,100 handguns and nearly three-dozen semi-automatic assault weapons — among them: an AR-15 rifle, two Uzis, and several .9mm, .40-caliber and .380-caliber handguns, state authorities said.

People who turned in the weapons at six churches in five towns were paid up to $250 per gun. The most they could turn in was three.

Chiesa was encouraged by the weekend turnout.

“By any measure [it] was a success, and another step forward in our continuing effort to make New Jersey residents safer by taking dangerous guns out of circulation,” he said this morning during a news conference in Newark.

“That’s 5,000 weapons that can never be used to commit a crime, terrorize someone, or maim or kill an innocent person,” Chiesa added.

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

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.”

Nearly $250,000 in state and country criminal forfeiture funds have been used so far to buy back the firearms, Chiesa said.

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