TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D-Camden, Gloucester) and Linda Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex) that would require the Attorney General’s office to establish a statewide gun buyback program allowing state residents to voluntarily and anonymously surrender firearms to the state in exchange for a monetary reward was approved today by the Senate.
The bill (S-1154) will require the Attorney General’s office to hold at least three events per year throughout the state of New Jersey. Of those, at least one to be held in the northern region, one in central and one in the southern region. At least one of the events must be held in an urban area with a high crime rateas determined by the most recent issue of the Uniform Crime Report published by the Department of Law and Public Safety. The program would be funded by forfeiture funds received by the Attorney General’s office, private donations as well as donations from corporations, small businesses and individuals.
“Guns have deadly consequences in our communities. Having unwanted guns in homes because the owners haven’t made arrangements to get rid of them increases the chances of them getting into the wrong hands and causing an accident or being used to commit a crime. Taking them out of our communities will reduce the devastating impact that guns can have and reduce the number of tragedies occurring in our state,” said Senator Cruz-Perez.
“Reducing the number of guns on our streets is an important step in decreasing violent crime. This voluntary program will reduce the risk of gun violence in the community while respecting the rights of lawful gun owners,” said Senator Greenstein.
Gun buyback programs have been in existence since 1974 when the Baltimore police department instituted a program for two months collecting 13,000 guns at a cost of $660,000. In New Jersey, in December 2012 Camden’s buyback program collected 1,100 guns. In April 2013, the Newark Police Department collected more than 200 guns during a buyback funded by “Jewelry for a Cause.” These programs allowed residents to turn in guns for cash. Gun buybacks in several locations in Essex County collected about 1,700 guns in February 2013.
S-1154 was approved with a vote of 28-7. Now the bill goes to the Assembly for further consideration.