The gun buyback program that was held in Camden, Newark and Trenton on Friday and Saturday is being hailed as the most successful program of its kind in state history.

During a news conference at Newark police headquarters, state Attorney General Christopher Porrino said a total of 4,775 guns were turned in at the Antioch Baptist Church in Camden, the Friendship Baptist Church in Trenton and the Greater Abyssinian Baptist Church in Newark.

“This included 1,973 handguns, roughly a thousand shotguns, roughly a thousand rifles, and I think 129 assault weapons,” he said.

Porrino pointed out more guns were collected during this buyback event than had ever been collected in a single year by law enforcement arrests and seizures, and this buyback total was at least 2,000 higher than previous ones held around the state.

He said assault weapons are designed to pierce body armor, “and getting just one off the street has tremendous value, not to mention getting 129 off the street in two days.”

Porrino said a total of $481,620 in cash was paid out for the guns, all of it coming from criminal forfeiture funds.

But some wonder how much of a difference will this effort really make.

It’s not likely most criminals turned in their weapons during the buyback, and illegal guns are brought into New Jersey every day.

U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Bill Fitzpatrick said it was especially important to get assault weapons off the streets.

“Those are weapons of war, those are weapons designed to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible.”

He went on the say the guns that were handed in are “guns that will not be stolen, guns that will not be used in a criminal offense, guns where there won’t be a child who is accidentally shot and killed.”

Porrino said accidents involving kids and guns happen all the time.

“You will read stories that will make you cry sitting in front of your computer. I can’t relate them now because I will not be able to without losing my composure,” he said.

“Families are being devastated across the country. Depending on who is counting, some statistics say it’s one child every two days, others say it’s more.”

He pointed out many Jersey residents who participated in the buyback were just waiting for this kind of an opportunity.

“These people are not criminals. These are people who had guns in their houses who told us they wanted to get rid of them. They wanted to get rid of them because they were afraid a child was going to stumble on it and make a mistake.”

He said the point of the program was to gather up all of the guns people no longer wanted and melt them down.

“We had people come in with bags of guns and say I don’t want any money at all, just take em, if we save one kid from getting shot by accident, all of this is worth it.”

He added, “To think that we’re going to have a gun buyback and this is going to end gun crime in the atate of New Jersey is naïve. It’s one tool in the tool box and right now we have every tool out and we’re using them all.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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