By Karen Zautyk
New Jersey’s continuing gun buyback program, which authorities say has taken a grand total of 12,500 firearms off the streets and out of homes, is coming to Hudson County next month, N.J. Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced Friday.
The Hudson effort, along with a concurrent one in Union County, will be held July 12 and 13. Three churches, located in Jersey City, Bayonne and Union City, will serve as Hudson collection sites.
From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the days designated, Hudson residents will be able to turn in up to three firearms “no questions asked,” authorities said.
According to Hoffman’s office, cash payments, up to a maximum of $250 per weapon, will be made “depending on the type of gun and its condition.”
Police officers will be at the churches to collect and secure the guns.
Money for the county buyback is coming from forfeiture funds obtained by the state’s Division of Criminal Justice. The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office will also contribute forefeiture monies.
As a promotional poster for the buyback notes, however: “This program is on a first-come, first-served basis. Funding is limited.” Obviously, it would be better to visit a collection site closer to 8 a.m., than 8 p.m.
The Hudson locations are:
• Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church, 661 Montgomery St., Jersey City
• Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church, 39 E. 22nd St., Bayonne
• St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church, 615 Eighth St. (at the intersection of Eighth St. and Central Ave.), Union City
The Observer attempted to find out why there would be no collection site in West Hudson, but as of press time calls to Hoffman’s office had not been returned.
Observer readers residing in Essex or Bergen County had the chance to turn in guns at buybacks held in February and April, respectively. The Essex program brought in 1,770 weapons; Bergen, 1,300.
Those buybacks were among seven held to date as part of a state-led initiative. Among the total weapons turned in were more than 6,000 handguns, which have since been destroyed, Hoffman reported.
According to his office, prior buybacks also led to the collection and destruction of approximately 1,500 illegal guns — “firearms with unlawfully high magazine capacities, or weapons that have been sawed-off or otherwise modified.”
“It is troubling to contemplate just how much deadly firepower is out there in our communities on any given day just waiting to fall into the wrong hands,” Hoffman said at a press conference held in Elizabeth.
“That is why these gun buybacks are important,” the AG continued. “The weapons we buy back are taken off the street — once and for all — and melted down. They can never be stolen and used in a street crime. They can never kill a curious child. They can never turn a domestic argument into a tragedy. And they can never claim the life of one of our brave police officers.”
Acting Hudson County Prosecutor Gaetano T. Gregory, endorsing the buyback, noted, “Every gun surrendered will provide one less opportunity for that gun to fall into the wrong hands and to be used in a violent crime.”
Also cooperating in the Hudson event are the state Division of Criminal Justice, the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, the State Police, the Bayonne, Jersey City and Union City police departments, and the faith-based community.
“The vast majority of these weapons [the ones collected at earlier buybacks] have been operable and capable of either maiming someone or killing them,” Hoffman said.
He added: “As we all recognize, there are far too many guns on the street, and too many people dying as a result of gun violence.
“I look forward to a day when gun violence is not as pervasive in our society, and we can direct our attention to other critical public safety issues. But we aren’t there yet, and our campaign to stop the needless bloodshed goes on full force.”
Residents with questions about the gun buyback program can call the Attorney General’s Citizen Services unit at 609- 984-5828 or visit www.nj.gov/guns.