(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John F. McKeon, Speaker Vincent Prieto, Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald, Charles Mainor, Mila M. Jasey and Gary S. Schaer that would create a statewide gun buyback program in an effort to reduce the number of firearms in New Jersey communities was recently released by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
“Gun violence claims lives every day. In some communities, it is an-all too common reality,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “We realize a gun buyback program alone will not eliminate gun violence, but it can help enhance public safety by reducing the number of firearms in circulation.”
“A gun in the hands of a violent or disturbed individual is a bad combination,” said Prieto (D-Bergen, Hudson). “This can help keep guns from falling into the wrong hands by creating a controlled environment where individuals looking to get rid of their weapons can do so safely and anonymously.”
“A gun buyback program is not the be-all and end-all solution to gun violence, but it can help make a dent by giving people the option to safely discard their weapons,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “Anything we can do to reduce the number of guns in our communities is a worthwhile pursuit.”
The bill (A-2895) would require the New Jersey Attorney General to establish a statewide gun buyback program, which would allow New Jersey citizens to voluntarily and anonymously surrender firearms and weapons in their possession in exchange for a monetary reward.
“Gun buyback programs are successful in getting a good amount of firearms off the street,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “Giving residents an incentive and a safe alternative to disposing unneeded firearms is a method that has worked in the past to decrease the likelihood of weapons falling into the wrong hands.”
“Unfortunately, there is not just one solution to curbing gun violence in our communities,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “A buyback program is one proven way of getting rid of firearms. Every gun we can get off the street is a small victory.”
“Gun buyback programs are an integral part of a larger effort to reduce the overall numbers of guns available in our communities,” said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Each firearm we remove from circulation helps to prevent another devastating tragedy. Each one turned in, potentially saves a life.”
Under the bill, state Office of the Attorney General would be required to hold at least nine gun buyback programs a year throughout the state; three each in the northern, central and southern regions. At least one program in each region would be required to be held in an urban area with a high crime rate, as determined by the uniform crime report.
Funding for the program would primarily be generated by captured proceeds from criminal activities in the state and private donations from corporations, small businesses, and individuals.
The Office of the Attorney General held a similar gun buyback initiative in 2012. Through 10 buybacks across the state a total of 15,958 firearms were collected, including more than 7,300 handguns and nearly 1,900 illegal guns.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.