New Yorkers surrendered thousands of firearms to the State over the weekend in exchange for gift cards ranging from $25 to $500 at a statewide, no-questions-asked “landmark event” coordinated by the attorney general’s office.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James said officials collected more than 3,000 guns at nine buyback locations throughout the state, ABC reported. Authorities did not ask for any personal information of those giving up their guns, including names, addresses, or proof of ownership.
“Gun violence has caused so many avoidable tragedies and robbed us of so many innocent New Yorkers,” James said in a news release.
According to the news outlet, gun owners who turned in their firearms were awarded $500 gift cards for turning in rifles, handguns, and untraceable “ghost guns.” Additional handguns surrendered received an extra $150 gift card. Participants also received $25 and $75 cards for non-working, antique, or 3D-printed replica rifles and shotguns.
Syracuse authorities reported the crime rate skyrocketed up to 133% homicides in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same time frame last year.
Residents in the central city of New York reportedly turned in 751 firearms.
“Every gun that we removed out of Syracuse homes and off the streets is a potential tragedy averted and another step in protecting communities throughout New York state,” James said.
At a news conference, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh of the Independence Party of New York blamed the rise in crime on gun ownership expansion, condemning federal and state officials nationwide for “abdicating their responsibility” to sell and handle firearms safely.
“There are too many damn guns in this country. They’re everywhere. And we have too many states that are abdicating their responsibility to ensure that guns are being sold safely,” Walsh said at the news conference. “And our federal government is abdicating their responsibility to ensure that guns are being handled safely.”
Walsh said the authorities seized and removed 76 guns from the community this year compared to 55 at the same point in 2022.
Some 90% of the guns seized by police are from out of state, he said.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez told local media authorities received 90 guns. Other sites in the Bronx and at the Attorney General’s regional office in Suffolk County also collected firearms previously owned by residents exercising their constitutional rights.
Retired law enforcement from Newfane Arnie Jonathan reportedly exchanged his father’s gun at an event at St. John’s African Methodist Episcopal Church in Niagara Falls, which received 505 guns in three hours.
Jonathan told local media that he wasn’t sure if turning in a gun was “good or bad.”
“I’m between whether it’s good or bad,” Jonathan said. “These aren’t the people they need to worry about here. We’re just getting some gift cards that will make our lives a little bit easier next week.”
Jonathan added that those who turned in their firearm likely wouldn’t use them for violence, expressing further concern that some would regret their decision if they were in a dangerous situation.
“The scary part is that there’s this many people here right now,” he said. “You know how much there is out there that isn’t being turned in?”
Pew Research reported cities across America have run gun buyback programs since the 1970s.