Over the past two years, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office has held 10 gun buyback programs, collecting more than 16,000 weapons including assault rifles, machine guns and grenade launchers.

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One Garden State lawmaker wants to expand the effort and make it permanent.

"My measure calls for at least nine gun buyback programs to be held every year, divided equally among the different regions of the state, focused on the urban areas that are higher crime areas and more susceptible to gun violence," said Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Madison).

He said when folks show up and surrender their firearms, they would get a certain amount of money, depending on the weapon.

"As opposed to just cash givebacks, we're going to expand that to debit cards," McKeon said, "which will make it more palatable to certain segments of the population that we hope will voluntarily comply and return weapons."

McKeon pointed out 31,000 people a year die from gun-related violence, which he calls obscene.

"There are 89 guns for every hundred Americans," he said, "that's why three out of 100,000 Americans perish each year in a violent gun attack. This is a part of the solution; we know that studies say, for every percentage of gun ownership that goes down, that would bring down that much of a percentage of gun-related deaths. This will save lives."

He also stressed the gun buybacks, which would be funded with criminal forfeiture funds, would be completely optional.

"We're not getting into that political struggle, we're not treading on anybody's Second Amendment rights," McKeon said. "What we're doing is coming up with a solution to a problem."

The legislation has been released by the Assembly Judiciary Committee and now awaits action by the full Assembly.

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