NEWARK, NJ — Acting Essex Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino and Essex County Bar Association President Raj Gadhok announced July 19 that the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Essex County Bar Foundation, the related charitable arm of the ECBA, are co-sponsoring a one-day gun buyback program this fall.
The initiative is the first time in New Jersey that a law enforcement agency has held a gun buyback funded with money raised by a nonprofit foundation. The public-private partnership brings together Essex County’s highest law enforcement agency — the largest and busiest in New Jersey — with the county bar association — the largest county bar association in the state — to help remove deadly weapons from the streets.
The Bar Foundation is raising funds to pay for the gun buyback. The Prosecutor’s Office, along with the New Jersey State Police, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office and the West Orange Police Department, will handle the logistics of collecting the guns, securing them and providing gun owners with cash payments.
“Every year 1,300 kids are killed by handguns. It’s the third-leading cause of death of children. We know we cannot stop all gun violence or get all guns off the street, but if we can take away a potential source that would be a great accomplishment. It makes our job easier,” Laurino said. “If we can keep a gun that’s just lying around the house out of the hands of a felon or a child who might commit suicide or prevent an accidental shooting, we’ve made a difference.”
“Gun-related violence is higher in Essex County than any other county in the state. We must get illegal guns off our streets. It is not only the right thing to do, but it is our obligation as leaders in our communities to protect our children, our families and our friends,” Gadhok said. “In order to make the program a success, we need to generate funds to buy back these weapons.”
Barry Mandelbaum, founder of Mandelbaum Salsburg P.C. in Roseland, pledged the first $5,000 to start the funding for this program and has lent his wholehearted support to the effort. The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office provided a match of $5,000 together with significant in-kind contributions of the use of personnel to run the operations of the program.
“Similar programs held in Essex in the past have cost more than $100,000 so the need for support, both corporate and personal, is greater than ever,” Gadhok said.
Donations are being accepted on the Essex County Bar Foundation’s website at www.essexbar.com. For more information regarding donations or support, contact Wendy E. Deer at the Essex County Bar Association at 973-622-6207, ext. 11
The one-day program is scheduled for this fall. Guns can be turned in with no questions asked. Gun owners will be given up to $200 per gun. More details will be released later.