FREEHOLD — More than 1,500 guns were turned in by Monmouth County residents during a state-sponsored gun buyback event held at churches in Asbury Park and Keansburg this past weekend.
According to Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa, county residents turned in a total of 1,581 guns – including 15 assault weapons — during the two-day buyback held at the Shiloh Community Fellowship Ministry in Asbury Park and the Saint Ann Catholic Church in Keansburg.
The number of guns obtained in Monmouth County brings to 7,092 the total number of firearms collected so far as a result of four state-led gun buybacks. A buyback held in Camden County last December yielded 1,137 guns, and a buyback in Mercer County in January brought in another 2,604 firearms. A February buyback held in Essex County resulted in the collection of another 1,770 guns.
Chiesa said this past weekend’s strong turn-out by Monmouth County residents demonstrates continued support of the State-led buyback initiative by citizens concerned about gun violence and eager to help rid their communities of dangerous firearms.
“This buyback was another success and another step forward in our ongoing effort to make New Jersey safer by taking guns off the streets,” Chiesa said during a press conference at the Monmouth County Police Academy in Freehold. “It’s a credit to the residents of Monmouth County, and to the residents of each county we’ve visited to date, that we’ve collected a total of nearly 7,100 firearms so far. That’s 7,100 guns that will never be used to commit a crime or take the life of an innocent person, and that will never go off by accident, killing a curious child.”
“Every gun turned in during this program had the potential to harm someone, whether intentionally or accidentally, because no one is immune to the potential of gun violence especially police officers and any of our sons and daughters,” said Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni. “The voluntary surrender of these weapons simply makes our streets and neighborhoods safer.”
Among other weapons, the Monmouth County gun buyback this past weekend brought in 761 handguns, 409 rifles and 356 shotguns.
According to Chiesa, a total of $209,175 in state and county criminal forfeiture funds were used to buy back the firearms – all but 40 of them operable.
Chiesa acknowledged that gun buybacks alone can’t solve the complex and multi-faceted problem of gun violence, but he called them a crucial element of a broader strategy aimed at reducing shooting deaths and injuries in New Jersey.
“There is no question that buybacks are part of the overall solution. And we believe they’re making a real difference throughout our state, particularly in light of the hundreds of illegal guns we’ve been able to take out of circulation,” the Attorney General said, referring to guns that are unlawful to own either because they feature excessively high magazine capacities, have been sawed-off, or have been modified in other ways.
The Monmouth County buyback yielded 45 illegal guns, including 12 sawed-off shotguns, one 12-gauge shotgun with a “streetsweeper” drum cartridge, a Tech-9 semi-automatic pistol, an AK-47 assault rifle and three M-1 type assault rifles. Counting the illegal firearms received in Monmouth County, state-led buybacks have now resulted in the removal of more than 1,000 illegal guns from the street.
The Monmouth buyback event was a cooperative effort involving the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, New Jersey State Police, the state Division of Criminal Justice, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and the faith-based community in Monmouth County.
Noting that their support and leadership were vital to gaining community-level support for the buyback event, Chiesa again thanked Rev. Mark White of the Shiloh Community Fellowship Ministry in Asbury Park and Father Daniel Cahill of the Saint Ann Catholic Church.
Those who turned in their weapons during the “no questions asked” buyback were paid up to $250 per gun, and the maximum number of guns that could be turned in was three.
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