Essex County buyback takes 332 guns off streets

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NEWARK, NJ — Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II and Essex County Bar Association President Raj Gadhok recently announced that the organizations’ one-day gun buyback on March 30 took out of circulation 332 guns, ranging from assault weapons to pistols.

“While a single gun buyback is not going to end violent crime, we believe this one-day effort was a tremendous success,” Stephens said. “Guns that could have gotten into the wrong hands, potentially causing a tragedy, were brought in and will eventually be destroyed.”

The gun buyback program is one of the first initiatives in New Jersey involving law enforcement and a private organization.

From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, individuals were able to turn in guns anonymously at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark. Police officers from the Newark Police Department and detectives from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office collected and secured the guns.

Those who turned in guns were paid up to $250 per gun. Most of the money for the gun buyback was raised by the Essex County Bar Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization.

“The results of the buyback event were exceptional, and we are so thankful for the support received from the Essex County Bar attorney members and for the outstanding efforts of the law enforcement officers of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and Newark Police Department,” Gadhok said.

“This was what I understand to be the first gun buyback event in the state of New Jersey to be funded by a private bar organization and everyone really stepped up to make it a reality. As attorneys, we are leaders in our communities and it is our obligation to make change when it is required,” Gadhok continued. “This event has been a year in the making. When I took the oath as president of the Essex County Bar last year, there was one issue which I personally felt strongly about and that is the gun violence epidemic which faces us today. Whether it be gang violence, domestic violence, school violence — the list goes on and on — there is absolutely no place for the illegal use of guns on our streets and in our neighborhoods. I am confident that our work in taking 332 guns off the streets has and will save innocent lives.”

The Newark Police Department and the Essex County Sheriff’s Office assisted by helping with the collection, valuation and disposal of the weapons.

“For us to get 332 guns off the street means we just avoided 332 tragedies,” Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose said. “Every gun taken off the street is potentially one life saved.”

Photos Courtesy of ECPO