Net Haul from NJ Gun Buybacks: Over 5,000 Firearms

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    TK
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    The eye-popping haul was scattered on nondescript office furniture: rifles stacked atop one another, piles of handguns, even a thin silver instrument that looked like a pen but could shoot a single bullet.

    The cache was a small fraction of the weapons purchased by the state of New Jersey over the past three months.

    Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa announced Tuesday that the state had collected more than 5,000 weapons as part of three gun buyback programs.

    "That's 5,000 weapons that can never be used to commit a crime, terrorize someone or maim or kill an innocent person," Chiesa said at a news conference.

    The latest of the three took place Friday and Saturday at six churches throughout Essex County. Buybacks were held last month in Trenton and in December in Camden.

    Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio said officials paid about $250 for an assault weapon, $150 for a handgun or a rifle, and $25 for an inoperable gun.

    The buyback in Essex County, which includes Newark, netted more than 1,700 guns, including 1,100 handguns and 31 semi-automatic weapons. Of those guns, 70 are illegal because they have sawed-off barrels or high ammunition capacity. Six guns were stolen and one was linked to a crime, Chiesa said.

    DeMaio said officials traced 9 mm pistols, .40-caliber handguns and assault weapons to see if they were stolen or used in any crime. They will be set aside, and all the other guns will be melted down.

    The guns purchased in Newark will be made into jewelry sold as part of the "Caliber Collection." Proceeds from the cuffs and bangles go to a foundation that helps victims of violence.

    The average gun in the Essex buyback was purchased for about $135, Chiesa said.

    Chiesa said each person has his or her own reason for handing in a gun. However, the Camden program started the same day as the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, something he said many people referenced when turning in a gun. Others said they were no longer comfortable having guns in their homes, Chiesa said.

    The weapons were turned in anonymously and all are given amnesty.

    "No questions asked," Chiesa said.

    Officials said the state paid about $738,000 during the three buybacks. They money, they said, was well worth it to take weapons off the street.

    "This is an arsenal that can start a small war," said Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

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