For Immediate Release: August 12, 2021
Office of The Attorney General
– Andrew J. Bruck, Acting Attorney General
For Further Information:
TRENTON – Speaking at a press conference today at the Nation Guard Armory – Lawrenceville, Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck announced that nearly one thousand firearms were turned in by residents at state-and locally-sponsored gun buyback events that were held on Saturday, August 7 at five locations in Passaic, Essex, and Atlantic counties.
Acting AG Bruck made the announcement with Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes, Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Cary Shill, Mitchell G. McGuire III, Acting Chief of Detectives for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and law enforcement leaders. The “Guns for Cash” events in Atlantic City, East Orange, Newark, and two locations in Paterson yielded 941firearms.
Acting AG Bruck noted that the weapons collected at the five locations included:
- 487 handguns.
- 281 rifles and shotguns.
- 27 assault weapons.
- 146 inoperable firearms and BB/pellet guns.
New Jersey residents were invited to turn in up to three firearms of any type “no questions asked,” and could earn a maximum of $250. Under standardized pricing set for the buybacks, gun owners were paid $25 for inoperable firearms and BB/pellet guns, $125 for rifles and shotguns, $200 for handguns, and $250 for assault weapons.
The buybacks were funded predominantly by forfeiture dollars obtained by the local police departments and County Prosecutors’ Offices, as well as forfeiture funds from the Division of Criminal Justice.
Each of the gun buybacks represented a collaboration between law enforcement and community stakeholders, who promoted and assisted with the six-hour events. The nearly one thousand guns collected at the buybacks were rendered inoperable by local police who staffed each event, and will be melted down.
“Simply stated, we are doing everything in our power to reduce gun violence in New Jersey, and this buyback program is a critical part of our comprehensive strategy to make our communities safer,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “Each gun we’ve collected potentially represents a life saved. I’m grateful for the collaboration and commitment of our County Prosecutors, law enforcement partners, elected officials, and community and faith-based leaders, who have joined our efforts to get these dangerous weapons off our streets and prevent unnecessary gun-related deaths.”
“The gun buyback program is a piece of a comprehensive and cooperative law enforcement initiative that is committed to reducing gun violence statewide through enforcement, education, and community partnership,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan.
“We know that there no singular solution to gun violence suppression – it requires a combination of tactics, but more than anything it requires collaboration,” said Lyndsay V. Ruotolo, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “The gun buyback program is one of the many tools in our toolbox to limit the number of guns in our communities. The outpouring of support and engagement we saw from community members and community leaders as we visited gun buyback locations across our state on Saturday was proof positive that these programs are a way for us to actively, collaboratively, and successfully participate in violence reduction efforts as a united force.”
“Passaic County will continue the daily work of reducing gun violence, through traditional law enforcement methods, community partnerships and support for gun violence victims,” said Passaic County Prosecutor Valdes. “The option to not try anything and everything to reduce gun violence is not an option. Our communities deserve every effort.”
“Reducing gun violence requires a comprehensive response,” said Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale. “We need to take every action to get them off our streets and the amount of guns exemplifies guns that will never see our streets.”
“The public should be assured that this Gun Buy Back Program did not have anything to do with infringing on the rights of lawful gun owners,” said Acting Essex County Prosecutor Stephens. “To be clear, the key purpose of this initiative was to reduce the number of illegal and unwanted guns in households and prevent them from being used in a potentially dangerous manner. Fewer guns available will have a direct effect on making our streets safer.”
“The right to bear arms should be done with care and responsibility and in compliance with the law,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “However, we must get illegal and unwanted guns out of communities, specifically as we deal with a national rise in gun violence. This gun buyback program took more than 900 dangerous weapons off of the streets of five cities in our state. Coupled with the alternative violence reduction initiatives we have created, we will reduce the needless tragedies that guns can create and save countless lives. This has been truly a collective effort with our state and county law enforcement partners, and key organizations.”
“Saturday’s results were very positive and show that by and large people recognize that harboring a firearm can potentially lead to irreparable repercussions,” Newark Public Safety Director Brian O’Hara said. “As always, our first priority is to save lives and to keep our communities safe, and I am thankful for the leadership of Acting Attorney General Bruck and Acting Essex County Prosecutor Stevens that made this gun buyback such a success.”
“Since last August, the East Orange Police Department has taken 93 guns off the street, which brings the total to 235 guns seized or recovered in one year,” said East Orange Mayor Ted R. Green. “This effort is about partnerships. Public safety is a top priority not only in the City of East Orange, but throughout the state and we are taking a very aggressive approach in getting these guns off the street.”
“We are extremely proud to have been a part of yet another successful gun buyback initiative,” said EOPD Police Chief Phyllis Bindi. “Our community is safer because we removed over 150 firearms that could potentially have caused someone harm. The collaboration between our county, state and federal partners was very instrumental in making sure our city continues to see a decrease in overall crime, a downward trend that is significantly impacted by fewer gun crimes.”
“The overwhelming success of this past weekend’s Gun Buyback is a tribute to the initiative of our Acting Attorney General and the strong support he lends to communities throughout the state,” said Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Shill. “While we must continue to work together toward the communities’ goal of a safer New Jersey, the results gained from this program represent a visceral step in the right direction.”
“I’d like to thank Acting Attorney General Bruck for bringing the gun buyback event to the City of Atlantic City,” said Mayor Marty Small, Sr. “This event was a proactive step towards reducing gun violence in our community. Every gun that we collected represents one less weapon out on the streets, and I commend the Atlantic City residents who took the initiative to turn in old or unwanted weapons – their actions may have saved a life.”
“I am pleased by the turnout and success of our gun buyback even,” said James Sarkos, Interim-Officer-in Charge of the Atlantic City Police Department. “I witnessed numerous individuals responsibly turn in unwanted firearms to ensure they don’t fall into the wrong hands. The Atlantic City Police Department values the partnerships we have with the Attorney General’s Office and the Atlantic County Prosecutors Office. We look forward to our continued collaboration in reducing gun violence through proactive initiatives like this.”
During the press conference, Acting AG Bruck also announced that additional Gun Buyback events would be held simultaneously on Saturday, October 23 in Bergen, Camden, Cumberland, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Somerset counties.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy and Acting AG Bruck are leading a comprehensive, statewide effort to reduce gun deaths, which pairs the latest evidence-based policing strategies with innovative, community-based prevention programs. The three-pronged approach to tackling this public health crisis includes addressing the root causes of violence; keeping guns away from those most likely to harm others; and taking swift action against those who break the law.
Residents with questions about the buyback effort can call the Attorney General’s Office of Constituent Services at (609) 984-5828 or visit www.njoag.gov/gunbuyback/ .