EDISON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Gun buyback events held in Middlesex County, N.J. last weekend netted more than 1,800 weapons, state officials announced Wednesday.
Acting Attorney General John Hoffman and acting county Prosecutor Andrew Carey say the weapons collected included more than 800 handguns, 352 rifles, 344 shotguns and 60 assault weapons, including two AR-15s similar to the weapon used in the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn.
The two-day program was conducted at three churches in New Brunswick, Perth Amboy and Old Bridge. Overall, about $266,250 in state and county criminal forfeiture funds were spent to buy all the weapons.
The buyback also yielded 170 illegal guns – weapons that are unlawful to own because they feature excessively high ammunition capacities or have been illegally modified.
Hoffman says the buyback program netted 1,844 weapons overall. That means nearly 16,000 firearms have now been collected in the 10 buyback events the state has staged in recent months.
“Thanks to the strong desire of people here and throughout the state to make their homes and neighborhoods safer, there are nearly 16,000 fewer deadly firearms circulating out there – nearly 16,000 fewer ways to maim or kill someone,” Hoffman said during a news conference held Tuesday.
Officials consider the weapon buybacks a vital component of a broader strategy that also includes taking a tough prosecutorial stance on gun crimes, Hoffman said. The strategy also includes proactive public awareness efforts and aggressive, state-led anti-violence initiatives.
“The amount of lethal firepower removed from our communities through these buybacks has been truly impressive. But the numbers tell only part of the story,” Hoffman said. “Residents have expressed the feeling that they’re making a real difference and communities have been working together toward a common goal. That’s an outcome that tends to get less attention than tables piled high with guns, but it’s still very real.”
Save for a few weapons deemed to have historic interest, which are sent to the State Police Museum, all firearms taken in through the buybacks are destroyed.
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