Guns pile up on tables at a press conference where Camden, N.J., Mayor Dana Redd and New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa announced a record breaking weekend for the state's cash-for-guns program. (AP)
Days after a deadly shooting in Newton, Conn., that left 26 people dead, including 20 children, a state-sponsored cash-for-guns program held on Friday and Saturday in Camden, N.J., one of America’s deadliest cities, brought in 1,137 guns, easily beating 2009's previous record of 700.
"A lot of people said they don't want the guns around the house now," state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said Tuesday as he announced the results of the buyback program.
“Let me be clear,” Chiesa added, “I am not suggesting that a buyback such as this could have prevented the shooting in Newtown, which was a cowardly act, nor am I suggesting that gun buybacks are some sort of magic solution to the complex and multi-faceted problem of violence in our society.”
“But we have to keep forging ahead using all of the strategies at our disposal.”
People traded in rifles, pistols, sawed-off shotguns, a few rusty WWII-era British rifles, an elephant-gun (really), and five fully automatic weapons, according to reports. About 90 percent of the firearms traded in were in working condition.
"Many were illegal weapons under state laws; some were so-called community guns stashed around neighborhood," the Associated Press notes.
The South Jersey Times provides the details:
… it was revealed Tuesday by the attorney general that many of the “long guns” turned in to authorities over the weekend had been used to kill Camden city police officers.
Among the arsenal presented in a press conference were five fully-automatic assault weapons, including two Intratec TEC-DC9 — commonly known as a TEC-9 — and an Uzi 9mm submachine gun.
Also collected were two Chinese SKS assault rifles — one with bayonet — a 10-gauge double-barreled elephant shotgun, hundreds of semi-automatic weapons, dozens of sawed-off shotguns and piles upon piles of revolvers and other handguns.
"We heard that there were a number of gun owners on Saturday who had publicly said, in light of the situation that had just occurred in Connecticut, they wanted to turn in their weapons," said Paul Loriquet, a Camden police department spokesman, in an interview.
The state plans to destroy the stash of firearms.
Twice an many weapons were traded in on Saturday than on Friday, according to state officials.
"The state had $110,000 in cash to give to those who turned in guns, along with $6,000 in gift cards left over from a previous program," the AP notes.
"At 2 o'clock," said Chiesa, "we were out of money."
After the money ran out, state workers resorted to offering IOUs worth nearly $40,000.
"Individuals were allowed to turn in up to three weapons and were paid up to $250 for each of them," the AP report adds.
Here’s a video of the gun stash [via Tim Hawk/South Jersey Times]:
Although more than a thousand guns were traded for cash between Friday and Saturday, Camden authorities say there's still an untold number of firearms stashed throughout crime-ridden the city.
Still, any "gun taken off the street is worth the effort,” said Camden Mayor Dana Redd. “We know the community is excited for these kinds of efforts — we had attempted a similar event last year, but this year is has picked up quite a lot.”
She added: “I’m sure there are other guns still out there we would like to get in another buyback.”
Camden, with a population of 77,000, has more than 700 people on parole, 600 registered sex offenders, and has suffered 67 homicides in 2012.
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Featured image courtesy the AP.