|TRENTON – Stressing that partnerships are crucial in the fight to reduce gun violence, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced today a $100,000 gun buyback program in Camden County to be carried out through the cooperative efforts of the Attorney General’s Office, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, the Camden Police, the faith-based community and other stakeholders.
Chiesa, who was joined for the announcement by Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk and Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson, said the state-led “Guns for Cash” event will take place December 14 and 15 at two Camden churches – the Antioch Baptist Church on Ferry Avenue, and the Higher Ground Temple on Vine Street.
Between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on those dates, Camden County residents can turn in up to three firearms of any type “no questions asked” and receive up to $250 per weapon. Police officers will be stationed at the two churches to collect and secure the guns. The Attorney General’s Office is paying for the gun buyback with forfeiture funds obtained by its Division of Criminal Justice.
Chiesa pointed to the death of a 52-year-old Camden city man earlier this year as an example of the toll on innocent lives exacted by gun violence. The man was walking home from a neighborhood convenience store with his wife on a Sunday evening when he was struck in the chest by a stray bullet.
“As we all recognize, there are too many guns on the street and too many people dying as a result of gun violence – not only in Camden County, but throughout New Jersey,” Attorney General Chiesa said. “The gun buyback campaign we’re announcing today is part of a broad-based, continuing effort by my office, working closely with our law enforcement partners and community stakeholders, to change that. If we can save one life through this program, it’s money well spent.”
“This initiative offers the opportunity to remove from the street weapons that have the potential to be used against an innocent person in Camden County,” said Prosecutor Faulk. ”Easy access to firearms is one of the factors that has made Camden such a deadly city this year, and I welcome an initiative that will put guns out of the reach of criminals."
“This gun buyback is an important part of the overall effort to keep firearms off the street and reduce violent crime in our city,” said Chief Thomson. “It only stands to reason that taking guns out of circulation is going to help make neighborhoods safer.”
In addition to publicizing the gun buyback campaign through today’s press conference, Chiesa explained, the two-day “Guns for Cash” effort will be promoted through local radio, newspaper, bus transit and other advertising.
Merchants in Camden will be urged to place posters announcing the program in their storefronts, and members of the clergy will be given palm cards to distribute to their parishioners. The Congress of Resident & Community Based Organizations, a coalition that works with Camden city officials to improve the quality of life in Camden, will also assist in getting the word out.
Attorney General Chiesa thanked the Antioch Baptist Church and the Higher Ground Temple for their willingness to host the gun buyback, and urged Camden County residents to take advantage of the money, and amnesty, being offered them to relinquish their guns.
Chiesa also reminded residents that New Jersey has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, and that the crime of Unlawful Possession of a Gun is a second-degree offense punishable by between five and 10 years in prison.
“The people you see gathered here today are united in their determination to have a safer city, a safer county, and a safer state,” said Chiesa. “Our commitment – one way or another -- is to take a lot of dangerous weapons out of circulation before they’re used to maim or kill someone. The time to get on board with that effort is now.”
Among those joining Attorney General Chiesa for today’s press conference were Camden Mayor Dana Redd, New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Director Stephen Taylor, State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, Deputy U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick, Antioch Baptist Church Pastor Rev. John O. Parker Jr., Higher Ground Temple Pastor Edward M. Barron, and members of the Congress of Resident & Community Based Organizations.
Residents with questions about the gun buyback program can call the Attorney General’s Citizen Services unit at (609) 984-5828 or visit www.nj.gov/guns.