TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) -- New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced Tuesday that 1,599 guns were turned in by residents of Union and Hudson counties during a state-sponsored gun buyback event Friday and Saturday.
Hoffman said the buyback program showed a continuing desire of New Jersey residents to be a part of the solution to the problem of gun violence.
Residents who turned in their weapons were asked no questions about the weapons and were paid up to $250 per gun, for a maximum of three guns. Guns were bought using criminal forfeiture funds provided by Hoffman's office through its Division of Criminal Justice.
"The buyback effort here in Hudson and Union Counties was a success by any measure," the attorney general said. "First and foremost, we helped make communities safer by getting lethal firearms off the streets -- including many weapons that are illegal to own because of their extraordinary destructive power.
"Through this effort, we also reached a new milestone this past weekend -- 14,000 firearms taken out of circulation since we began the statewide initiative. That's 14,000 fewer weapons out there to be used in a crime, or to claim someone's life in a tragic accident."
Among other weapons, the buyback event brought in 713 handguns, 12 assault weapons and more than 150 illegal guns. The illegal guns included some that were sawed-off or otherwise modified and guns with excessively high ammunition magazine capacities.
"It is truly sobering to see the array of deadly firearms collected here today," Hoffman said. "It brings home, viscerally, why these gun buybacks are so important, and why everyone who participated here in Hudson and Union Counties has made a difference.
"Were it not for our buyback, all of these firearms -- the vast majority of them operable -- would still be out there with the potential to be stolen, to fall tragically into the hands of a curious child, or to be stashed in a central location and used by criminals as so-called community guns."
Hoffman noted the buybacks alone will not solve the complex national gun violence problem, but he called the events an important part of a broader law enforcement strategy. The strategy, which includes vigorous anti-gun-trafficking enforcement efforts, is meant to reduce the number of shooting injuries and deaths.
"There's no question that reducing the number of guns out there is the chief benefit of a buyback, but the story doesn't end there," he said. "Through this buyback program, churches, businesses, neighborhood leaders, elected officials and everyday citizens are coming together with law enforcement to work toward a common goal.
"What we've found is that these buybacks both energize and galvanize communities, and they help to build a bond of trust between neighborhoods and law enforcement. All of this can only help as we move forward and, in the future, continue to address not only the gun violence issue, but other public safety concerns as well."