(NEW YORK) — Thousands of guns — including numerous assault-style rifles and “ghost guns” — were surrendered in a single day over the weekend across the state of New York in exchange for gift cards, according to the state attorney general.
Describing it as a “landmark event,” New York State Attorney General Letitia James, whose office hosted and coordinated Saturday’s program, said more than 3,000 guns were surrendered at nine buyback locations throughout the state, including two in New York City.
In Syracuse, New York, where police crime statistics show a 133% jump in homicides in the first four months of this year compared to the same time frame last year, 751 firearms were turned over by community residents.
“Gun violence has caused so many avoidable tragedies and robbed us of so many innocent New Yorkers,” James said in a statement. “Every gun that we removed out of Syracuse homes and off the streets is a potential tragedy averted and another step in protecting communities throughout New York state.”
The buyback program came just days after Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said at a news conference that the ongoing proliferation of guns in his community is contributing to a rise in the city’s violent crime rate in the first quarter of the year.
“There are too many damn guns in this country. They’re everywhere. And we have too many states that are abdicating their responsibility to ensure that guns are being sold safely,” Walsh said at the news conference. “And our federal government is abdicating their responsibility to ensure that guns are being handled safely.”
In comparison to the weekend’s gun buyback program, Syracuse police officers have seized and removed 76 guns from the community this year compared to 55 at the same point last year, Walsh said. He said 90% of the guns seized by police are from out of state.
Officials said 90 guns were surrendered in the first three hours of the buyback program at the at the All Saints Catholic Church in Brooklyn, New York.
“There’s a lot of firepower on this table,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, standing beside a table full of firearms turned over Saturday at the All Saints Church. “And each and every one of these guns is a potential life saved, and a non-fatal shooting avoided.”
In exchange for firearms with no questions asked, participants were given $500 gift cards for turning in assault-type rifles and untraceable “ghost guns.” People turning over handguns also received $500 gift cards for the first weapon surrendered and $150 give cards for each additional handgun.
Those surrendering other types of rifles and shotguns received $75 gift cards and $25 cards were given out for each non-working replica, antique or 3D printed gun.
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