Police Prepare For Middlesex County Gun Surrender Program

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NEW BRUNSWICK — Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced today that police are prepared to handle a large crowd that is expected to participate in a gun surrender program that will be held this weekend in New Brunswick.

Police have logged nearly 100 calls from residents inquiring about the program, which is offering cash rewards for those who surrender operable handguns and operable assault weapons on April 21 and April 22.

The program will pay $80 for each operable handgun and $150 for each operable assault weapon that is surrendered at Sacred Heart Parish Hall, behind Sacred Heart School at 115 Commercial Avenue in New Brunswick.

The church hall will be open on April 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on April 22, from 1 to 5 p.m.

Residents are asked to arrive within the posted hours of the program to spare church workers from turning away those who arrive too early or too late.

Those who surrender operable handguns or operable assault rifles will be paid, with no questions asked. Additionally, no one will be arrested for surrendering a gun.

Residents also are invited to stop at the church hall to pick up trigger locks, which will be given for free on both days.

“The goal of this program is to reduce the number of guns in Middlesex County,” Prosecutor Kaplan said. “When you turn in guns, you make our neighborhoods safer, and may save a life.”

Middlesex County Freeholder H. James Polos, chairperson of the county’s Office of Public Safety and Health, encouraged residents to surrender weapons. “The freeholders are dedicated to improving the safety of all our residents,” Freeholder Polos said. “This is one more program that helps us reach our goal.”

“I would like to commend Prosecutor Kaplan for making this program available,” Middlesex County Freeholder Director Christopher D. Rafano said. “It will lessen the opportunity that guns will be used illegally or accidentally.”

While all guns that are surrendered will be accepted at the church hall, cash payments will be made only to those who surrender handguns or assault weapons that are in operable condition.

In years past, police also have accepted unusual weapons and antique weapons that were surrendered. In a 2002 gun collection sponsored by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, about 20 antique weapons were handed over to police. Those weapons subsequently were donated to The West Point Museum at the United State Military Academy.

The gun surrender program is open to all county residents and non-residents as well, since police will not be asking for any forms of identification.

In order to surrender a gun, it must be unloaded, wrapped, tied or taped, and placed in a box, bag or case.

Those who are uncertain if a weapon in their possession is an assault weapon are urged to go to the New Jersey State Police website, www.NJSP.org, click on Public Information, New Jersey Firearms Laws, NJ Attorney General Guidelines, Assault Firearms.

During the weekend, residents with questions about the program may call 1-732-745-3300.

The last gun roundup occurred in 2003. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office paid $84,500 for assault weapons that were surrendered by individuals. Another 100 guns were surrendered, but no cash rewards were offered during the program, which only sought assault rifles for cash.

Funding for the program is provided from assets that were obtained by criminals through illegal activities and forfeited by court order following convictions for drugs sales and other crimes.

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