By Young Soo Yang
The City of Camden conducted a “Goods for Guns” Initiative Tuesday from 8 am to 1 pm to help curb and reduce the amount of weapons in the City. Individuals who brought in guns ranging from handguns and shotguns to assault rifles were given a $100 gift card to Pathmark. However, residents were limited to receiving two gift cards per person. In total, 57 guns were surrendered. Of the 57 guns, 22 were rifles and 35 were handguns. All the guns collected today will eventually be destroyed.
BB guns, starter pistols, air rifles or flair guns did not qualify for the gift card. More importantly, no questions were asked of anyone surrendering guns.
Camden has experienced a surge in violence this past year after its police force suffered massive layoffs due to budget cuts.
According to Robert Corrales, Director of Communications at Mayor Dana Redd’s Office, the “Goods for Guns” Initiative is one of several actions Mayor Redd has taken to enhance public safety in Camden. Removing just one gun off the street, says Corrales, is considered a success. Mayor Redd echoed that sentiment, saying “any amount of guns, whether it’s one, ten, fifty-seven, or one-hundred that are taken off of our streets is a positive step towards securing our neighborhoods.”
Corrales says the program was completely funded through sponsors. The $100 gift cards were acquired through donations/sponsorship from the Camden County Prosecutors Office, Camden Iron and Steel, Mays Funeral Home, Duan Morris, Jackson Associates Group, Pathmark, Reliance Medical Group, Conifer LeChase, Juan Rivera CC YAP, Re/Max, and CMC Security.
The last time the city engaged in a buyback program to get guns off the streets was in 1993. But the program will be repeated next year, says Corrales.