If there is one thing that the recent debate about gun laws has demonstrated, it's that the nation is awash in guns. And New Jersey, apparently, is no exception. The state Attorney General, in concert with police and religious organizations, has obtained 3,741 guns from residents in just two weekends of gun buybacks. The state is using criminal forfeiture funds to pay up to $250 per gun, no questions asked, for anyone who wants to turn one in.
In January, the state netted 2,604 firearms in a Mercer County event, spending $324,000 in forfeiture monies for the weapons, 700 of which are illegal to own in New Jersey due to their high-capacity magazines. Among the weapons turned in were nearly 100 sawed-off shotguns, almost 1,000 handguns, four Tech-9 semiautomatic pistols, two Hi-Point semiautomatic assault rifles, two Thompson submachine guns, an Egyptian fully automatic assault rifle, at least three M-1 carbines, and a shoulder-firing rocket launcher.
A similar event in Camden County in December picked up 1,137 firearms for $156,000.
State Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said most people turned in the guns saying they feared they would fall into the hands of children or that they would be stolen and used in a crime.
The state has scheduled another even this month in Essex County on February 15 and 16.
The buyback program won't solve the complex problem of gun violence, according to Chiesa, but it is a strategy to get "firearms out of communities and reduce shooting deaths and injuries."