In just one weekend, thousands of guns were surrendered to the state of New York as part of a “landmark event” that rewarded people who turned them in with gift cards.
The program, which was coordinated by Letitia James, the attorney general in New York, allowed New York residents to turn in firearms with no questions asked. They were given gift cards starting at $25 in value all the way up to $500 for doing so.
According to James’ office, there were nine different buyback locations in New York for last weekend’s event, and more than 3,000 guns were collected at them. The authorities who were manning the locations didn’t ask people to provide them with their personal information when they surrendered their guns.
They didn’t have to provide their name or address, or even any proof that they actually owned the guns – or obtained them legally.
In a news release about the event, James said:
“Gun violence has caused so many avoidable tragedies and robbed us of so many innocent New Yorkers.”
How much people were given in gift cards depended on what they turned in at the event. For example, if someone turned in a handgun, rifle or any “ghost gun,” which is untraceable, they were given a $500 gift card. For every additional handgun that the same person surrendered, they were given another $150 gift card.
People also received either a $25 or $75 gift card if they turned in an antique, 3-D printed replica or non-working shotgun or rifle.
In Syracuse – a city in central New York – officials received 751 firearms as part of the event. This is pertinent for that city, as crime has skyrocketed there recently. During the first quarter of this year, homicides in the city have increased 133% compared to the same timeframe in 2022.
In commenting specifically about Syracuse, James said in the 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.”
Ben Walsh, the mayor of Syracuse, held a news conference of his own recently where he blamed the city’s steep increase in crime on the expansion of gun ownership. He condemned officials at the state and federal level for “abdicating their responsibility” to handle and sell firearms in a safe way.
“There are too many damn guns in this country. They’re everywhere. We have too many states that are abdicating their responsibility to ensure that guns are being sold safely. And our federal government is abdicating their responsibility to ensure that guns are being handled safely.”
The mayor also said that authorities in Syracuse have seized 76 guns thus far in 2023 compared to only 55 in the same time period last year. What’s more, about 90% of all the guns that police have seized have come from outside of New York, he said.