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Bergen buys back 1,345 guns

Like other recent gun buybacks in New Jersey, the one held the weekend of April 13-14 in Bergen County was a huge success, bringing in a total of 1,345 weapons, authorities reported.

Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino called the results “overwhelming.”

In the buyback, individuals could anonymously surrender firearms for cash. According to the Sheriff’s Office, a total of $101,923 was paid out, the funding coming from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office with money seized from criminal activities.

Surprisingly, tiny, upscale Park Ridge (President Richard Nixon lived there after leaving office) led the pack in guns collected at a single site: 259. And that was just one day’s take.

As in the buybacks in Essex County, Camden and Trenton, houses of worship served as the collection points, with law enforcement officers in charge of the collection. But unlike the other events, where sites were open on both Saturdays and Sundays, the 11 participating churches and temples in Bergen were open only one day each.

Park Ridge set its record on Saturday the 13th. The reported tally at Our Lady of Mercy Church included: 107 shotguns and rifles, 97 handguns, five assault rifles, 19 BB guns and 31 nonoperational weapons.

The other sites were in Garfield, Maywood, Hackensack, Englewood, Fair Lawn, New Milford and Teaneck.

Bergen County held its first-ever gun buyback in 2010, taking in 708 weapons. This year’s total was nearly twice that.

“We’re thrilled with the overwhelming results of our 2013 gun buyback,” Saudino said. “As we’ve seen far too many times, gun violence, whether intentional or accidental, destroys lives.”

The statement issued by his office also noted: “While this initiative was a great step in getting unwanted firearms off our streets and out of our homes, we’ll continue to find ways to curb gun violence and protect our children, our families and our neighborhoods.”

Among the 1,345 firearms surrendered were 10 assault weapons and “scores of handguns, rifles and shotguns.”

Additionally, “numerous boxes of ammunition, highpowered air rifles, flare guns and combat knives” were turned in.

Those turning in weapons were eligible to receive $20 for nonoperational weapons, $80 for rifles and shotguns, $100 for handguns and $300 for automatic assault weapons and machine guns.

Complimentary trigger locks and gun safety information were also provided at each drop-off location.

– Karen Zautyk

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