The weekend of April 24th was a landmark event in New York State as thousands of firearms were surrendered in exchange for gift cards ranging from $25 to $500. The event was coordinated by the Attorney General’s office and was a no–questions–asked event.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James reported 3,000 guns were collected at nine buyback locations throughout the state. No personal information was asked from those surrendering their firearms, such as names, addresses, or proof of ownership. Those turning in rifles, handguns, and untraceable “ghost guns” were awarded $500 gift cards. 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 that the crime rate has skyrocketed up to 133% homicides in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same time frame last year. 751 firearms were turned in by residents in the central city of New York.
“Gun violence has caused so many avoidable tragedies and robbed us of so many innocent New Yorkers,” James said in a news release. “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.”
At a news conference, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh of the Independence Party of New York blamed the rise in crime on gun ownership expansion and condemned 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.”
Retired law enforcement from Newfane Arnie Jonathan 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 expressed concern that those who turned in their firearms likely wouldn’t use them for violence and that some would regret their decision if they were in a dangerous situation.
Pew Research reported cities across America have run gun buyback programs since the 1970s. This landmark event in New York was a major step in helping to reduce the number of firearms in circulation and to reduce the number of tragedies caused by gun violence.