Monday, September 29, 2008

Buffalo's gun buyback program pulls in 720 weapons

A great-grandmother walked into the gun buyback event at True Bethel Baptist Church on Saturday with a long object wrapped in a dark trash bag and her teenage grandson at her side.

She handed the package to a police officer.

“Whoa,” he gasped under his breath as he unwrapped it. “AK.”

It was a civilian model AK-47, a semiautomatic assault rifle.

The woman said that about a year ago, a young man being chased by the police dropped it in her yard.

“I didn’t know what to do with it so I just kept it,” the woman said, declining to give her name. “I’m scared of these things. . . . I’m glad it’s gone.”

Assault weapons, such as the one the great-grandmother turned in, received the highest amount — $100. Handguns fetched $75, rifles and shotguns got $50 and nonworking

or antique guns as well as BB guns and starter pistols, $10.

Last year, at the first buyback, the city collected 878 guns, 599 of them functioning weapons. While 18 percent fewer guns were turned in this year, Brown said he was pleased with the results. He noted the first initiative was promoted for a longer period of time.

The weapons will be destroyed as part of the city’s “no questions asked” pledge during the gun buyback. No weapons will be tested to see if they were used in prior crimes.

Earlier Saturday, Brown kicked off the buyback at St. John Baptist Church on Goodell Street.

“There are too many guns on the streets of our city,” he said. “There have been too many senseless homicides, particularly among young people in the city.”

Police Commissioner H. Mc- Carthy Gipson encouraged citizens to participate.

“It’s good for the City of Buffalo. It’s good for the citizens. It’s good for our families. We never know: It prevents [the guns] from falling into undesirable hands and could potentially save a life.”

Brown, noting that one man turned in 13 functioning handguns, said if a burglar had raided the man’s house, there would have been more than a dozen illegal weapons on the streets. And Gipson noted the gun used to shoot Officer Patricia Parete, who was left paralyzed, had been stolen in a burglary years earlier.

Many studies conducted over the years suggest gun buy-backs aren’t effective in reducing crime and serve as little more than photo opportunities for politicians.

Brown disagreed.

“I don’t know what studies say but I know that in the City of Buffalo there have been 31 people killed by homicide [this year] . . . We want to do anything that we can, use any tactic, every strategy that we can to stop this senseless violence.”

Smooth attempt to duck the question, Mr. Mayor. You should have stopped with " I don't know what the studies say", and left it at that. At least you'd be, perhaps for the first time or in a long time, telling the truth. Buy-backs do next to nothing but get your name in the paper, and tell me this; if you had a record number of guns handed in last year, and your murder rate is at record levels and climbing, then what can you expect from this years program? 18% more homicides next year?

See, Mr. Mayor, none of it makes sense and statistics can be stretched and twisted to accommodate most anything you want them to . But the bottom line is that criminals aren't going to be the ones handing over their guns. In disarming the good guys, you make the bad guys safer, and level with me now, is that what you're really after?

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