PUBLIC SAFETY: The state Assembly today approved a bill calling for the Attorney General’s Office to conduct no fewer than nine no-questions-asked gun backbacks each year — with three each in New Jersey’s north, south and central regions.
If approved by the Senate and signed into law by Governor Christie, the measure would require that at least one buyback in each region be done in an urban, high-crime area.
“We realize a gun buyback program alone will not eliminate gun violence,” said Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Essex, “but it can help enhance public safety by reducing the number of firearms in circulation.”
Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman’s office has held nearly a dozen buybacks since 2012, netting 16,000 or so firearms.
More than one of every 10 was illegal.
Last year, Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino held the county’s second-ever gun buyback, which netted 1,345 firearms, along with 55,000 rounds of ammo.
Passaic County followed weeks later with 1,900 guns.
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 a police officer, authorities said.
Among the firearms collected statewide:
Tec 9 firearms with 32-round magazine capacities;
AK-47 assault rifles;
sawed-off shotguns with pistols grips;
double-barreled, sawed-off shotguns.
State and county criminal forfeiture funds are used to buy back the guns. Drop-off points are at area churches.
Those who’ve turned in their weapons have received up to $250 per gun, with a maximum limit of three.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, R-Morris, said he approves the practice but wished that not all of the weapons were destroyed.
Some are “beautiful, historic,” he said.
PHOTO, TOP: Maywood Police Chief David Pegg inspects guns turned in and collected at the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office in Hackensack last year (Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)
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