|TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced today that more than 1,000 guns were turned in by Camden County residents during a state-sponsored gun buyback program held at two Camden city churches last weekend.
According to Chiesa, a total of 1,137 firearms – including five semi-automatic assault weapons – were turned in during the two-day “Guns for Cash” event held December 14 and 15 at the Antioch Baptist Church and the Higher Ground Temple in Camden.
Chiesa said he’s not aware of any single gun buyback event in New Jersey that has yielded as many guns.
He acknowledged that gun buybacks alone cannot solve the problem of gun violence, but said they are an important element of a broader law enforcement strategy to take firearms out of circulation and reduce the number of shooting deaths.
“I am not suggesting that gun buybacks are some sort of magic solution to the complex and multi-faceted problem of violence in our society. But we have to keep forging ahead using all of the strategies at our disposal. And while we’re at it, we have to keep thinking about new strategies as well. Here in New Jersey, inaction is not an option,” Chiesa said during a press conference at Camden Police headquarters where all of the buyback guns were on display.
“We’ve taken more than a thousand firearms out of circulation here in Camden and throughout Camden County. The results of our buyback are collected here before you, and I’d submit that it was well worth the effort,” Chiesa added.
According to Chiesa, a total of $156,000 was spent on buying back guns during the two-day effort. He explained that approximately $110,000 in State criminal forfeiture funds were used, as well as $6,000 worth of gift cards left over from the City of Camden’s prior gun buyback initiative. Another $39,375 in IOUs were issued that will be honored with criminal forfeiture monies tomorrow.
The gun buyback was a cooperative effort led by the Attorney General’s Office and including the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, the Camden Police, the faith-based community and other stakeholders.
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.
Chiesa, who was joined for today’s announcement by Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk, Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson and Camden Mayor Dana Redd, noted that the gun buyback was an example of how partnerships often result in the most effective initiatives.
“We aren’t going to simply throw up our hands and say the gun violence problem is too big. We’re going to act. We’re going to innovate. And, working together, we’re going to continue to do everything in our power to make communities safer by getting guns off the streets,” the Attorney General said.