Trenton gun buyback nets 2,600 weapons

January 29, 2013 3:38:40 PM PST
Mercer County officials say 2,600 weapons were turned in for cash during a two-day gun buyback program in the state's capital.

"When you take the guns off the street, there's guns off the street and every little bit helps," said Daniel Spaine of Trenton.

What was turned in during the gun buy back at two Trenton churches was much more than just a "little bit." It's an astounding array of 2600 weapons: everything from tiny .22 caliber handguns to sawed-off shotguns and so-called "street sweepers".

There was even a shoulder-fired rocket launcher turned in. People were paid up to $250 per weapon, no questions asked.

The Commander of Special Operations for Trenton Police showed us an AR-15, the kind of weapon used in the Newtown school shooting.

"It'll go through vests or through doors, walls," said Lieutenant Lenny Aviles. "There's no vest that will stop this type of weapon, so we're glad that we have this one for our safety and everyone else's safety."

Using criminal forfeiture funds, the state is paying out $324,000 to buy back the weapons, 94% of which are operational. 700 of them are illegal guns.

"When you have 700 illegal weapons turned in, they'll no longer be able to hurt police officers, hurt children, no longer be able to create chaos in these communities," said New Jersey Attorney General, Jeffrey Chiesa.

Authorities are under no illusion that collecting all these weapons will stop the gun violence in Trenton. But it will keep all of THESE weapons from being used in a crime, and that's worth something.

"Guns will no longer be used to injure or kill someone in our community and that's a good thing," said Rev. Stanley Justice of Greater Mount Zion AME Church.

Along Stuyvesant Ave., one of Trenton's most crime-ridden areas, not everyone is impressed.

"There's still going to be a lot of guns," said Bam Gotti. "What they got is not half, it's not 25% of what's out here on the street."

The buyback was such a success they ran out of money, and vouchers had to be issued. They can be redeemed on Friday.

The weapons will be checked to see if they're lost or stolen and then destroyed, which is okay with one resident who is tired of the violence.

"They just grab a gun and start shooting each other up," said Dennis Day. "And I think yeah, they need to have more programs like that. Get all the guns off the street."