LAWRENCEVILLE – More than 2,800 guns were traded in for cash at buyback events around New Jersey Saturday, state and county prosecutors announced Thursday.

Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck said the effort resulted in the state’s largest single-day buyback event, yielding 1,196 handguns, 1,206 rifles and shotguns and 29 assault weapons, as well as 375 BB, pellet or inoperable guns.

Bruck says each gun turned in is one that won’t be found accidentally by a child, or someone experiencing a mental health crisis or a burglar rooting around looking for something to pawn.

“Like any preventative measure, we’ll never know exactly how many lives were saved as a result of this effort, but I have no doubt in my mind that lives were saved,” Bruck said.

Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck at a gun buyback event on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. (Office of the Attorney General)

Buyback events were held in Asbury Park, Bridgeton, Camden, Carneys Point, Elizabeth, Englewood, Plainfield, Somerset, Trenton and Westfield. The biggest response was in Somerset, an event operated jointly by Middlesex and Somerset counties, where 621 guns were collected.

“Every citizen had their own personal reason for wanting to get rid of their firearms,” said Union County Prosecutor William Daniel, in whose county 520 weapons were bought. “But the commonality among all is that they chose to responsibly surrender their weapons, ensuring the guns surrendered would be properly disposed of.”

The guns collected at the buybacks were rendered inoperable by local police who staffed each event and will be melted down.

“Every one of those 360 firearms that have been slated for reduction reduces the risk that an untold number of them would somehow end up on the street, in the wrong person’s hands, with potentially lethal consequences for our citizens,” said acting Monmouth County First Assistant Prosecutor Michael Wojciechowski.

Guns obtained at the Oct. 23 buyback events. (Office of the Attorney General)

Camden County Prosecutor Jill Mayer says they’re not naïve and know the people most likely to commit acts of violence probably weren’t turning in guns Saturday.

“But we also now that guns that have been used to commit crimes have often been stolen from residences or children have gotten hold of them, and that’s when tragedy follows,” Mayer said.

New Jersey residents could turn in up to three firearms of any type, no questions asked, and get a maximum of $750. The prices were $25 for inoperable firearms and BB/pellet guns, $125 for rifles and shotguns, $200 for handguns and $250 for assault weapons.

“We want to make it as easy for folks as possible, and nothing is easier than giving out cash,” Bruck said “So folks show up, no questions asked, they leave with money in their pocket. And we’ve found that that’s been an effective tool.”

Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck (right) at a gun buyback event on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. (Office of the Attorney General)

The buybacks were funded by $406,575 in forfeiture dollars – mostly funds obtained by local police departments and county prosecutors, plus some from the state Division of Criminal Justice.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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