Hudson County residents turned in a total of 589 firearms during the state-sponsored gun buyback held July 12-13, N.J. Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced last week.
The program was part of an ongoing effort by N.J. authorities to stem gun violence by allowing residents to turn in up to three weapons per person, “no questions asked,” at designated sites. Those who handed over guns were paid up to $250 per weapon. The Hudson County collection sites were Mount Carmel Church in Bayonne, Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church in Jersey City and St. Anthony of Padua Church in Union City.
Prior to the buyback, The Observer inquired as to why there was no collection point in West Hudson. In an email, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, stated: “In each of the buybacks we›ve done around the state — including this latest one . . . — the actual host locations are recommended by county and local officials.”
The July 12-13 program in Hudson was held simultaneously with one in Union County, where 1,010 guns were collected — bringing the combined total to 1,599.
At a press conference July 16 at the Hudson County Plaza in Jersey City, Hoffman called the buyback “a success by any measure.”
“First and foremost,” the AG said, “we helped make communities safer by getting lethal firearms off the streets, including many weapons that are illegal to own because of their extraordinary destructive power.”
In Hudson County, the illegal weapons turned in included an Uzi, a Savage Arms 12-gauge shotgun, and a Universal Firearms M1 30-caliber military-style rifle, authorities reported.
Hoffman noted that the Hudson/Union program helped N.J. reach “a new milestone . . . 14,000 firearms taken out of circulation since we began the statewide initiative.”
“That’s 14,000 fewer weapons out there to be used in a crime, or to claim someone’s life in a tragic accident,” he commented.
Since December, buybacks have also been held in Camden, Mercer, Essex, Bergen, Passaic, Monmouth, Atlantic and Cumberland counties.
The firearms collected in both Hudson and Union counties were on view at the Jersey City press conference, and Hoffman termed the display “truly sobering.”
“It brings home, viscerally, why these gun buybacks are so important . . . “ Hoffman said. “Were it not for our buyback, all of these firearms — the vast majority of them operable — would still be out there with the potential to be stolen, to fall tragically into the hands of a curious child, or to be stashed in a central location and used by criminals as so-called community guns.”
The Hudson buyback was a cooperative effort involving the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, the state Division of Criminal Justice, the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, the N.J. State Police, the Bayonne, Jersey City and Union City police departments and the faith-based community.
Said Hudson County Acting Prosecutor Gatano T. Gregory, “The office is grateful to its dedicated partners in the faith, civic, governmental and law enforcement sectors who contribute unselfishly to programs such as this in an effort to secure the safety of the people of the county.”
As with the previous stateled buybacks, guns in Hudson County were purchased using criminal forfeiture funds provided by the Attorney General’s Office through its Division of Criminal Justice. The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office also provided forfeiture funds, and Care- Point Health donated money to support the program.
For the two-day Hudson event, a total of $82,775 was expended, in authorities said. “What we’ve found is that these buybacks both energize and galvanize communities, and they help to build a bond of trust between neighborhoods and law enforcement,” Hoffman said. “All of this can only help as we move forward and, in the future, continue to address not only the gun violence issue, but other public safety concerns as well.”
– Karen Zautyk