Long Beach last held program in 2010.
Turn in an illegal handgun and get $200 cash.
That’s what Nassau County Police Department will continue offer at the latest gun buyback program at the Perfecting Faith Church,
311 N. Main St. in Freeport, starting at 9 a.m. on Sept. 29.
If a gun-owner is transferring his or her weapon by car, it must be
kept in the trunk of the vehicle, police said. Guns must be operable, unloaded
and put in a plastic or paper bag or a shoebox. No licensed guns, BB guns, Air
Pistols, Long Guns or Replicas are allowed. People handing in their guns will
remain strictly anonymous, according to police.
Long Bach held its last gun buyback program in Many 2010. The
Christian Light Missionary Baptist Church in North Park hosted the
program after a shooting at nearby East Hudson Street earlier that year, when,
police said Casey Fitzgerald, 20, gunned down fellow Long Beach resident Ernest
Cummings, 40, after the men argued over their dogs.
The program was a joint effort between the church, the
Nassau County District Attorney's Office and the Long Beach Police Department,
who invited owners of illegal guns to turn them over in exchange for $200 in
cash. In all, 133 firearms were collected, 13 more than were turned in at the
first program at the church in September 2009, according to Chris Munzing, a spokesman for
While New York City has run gun buyback programs for many
years, Nassau County kicked off its first program in December 2008, with pickup
points in Hempstead, Uniondale and Freeport.
"We tweaked it a little bit from the New York City
program, using cash rather than vouchers or ATM cards," said Chuck
Ribando, the D.A.'s chief investigator, who ran the program two years ago.
The cash the police dole out is forfeiture money from people
who were arrested for crimes. Using cash is one way to make the program as
anonymous and comfortable as possible for those who turn in the guns.
"People are more likely to hand the guns in if they get
cash," Ribando explained. "They come in, hand in their guns and leave
with cash in less than a minute."
Some critics argue that the gun users can simply use the
$200 to buy other guns. "Most people think it's a joke," said one
Long Beach resident. "It's like playing musical guns. If it worked, how
come they come back every year and find more guns to buy?"
But while the gun-owners can do whatever they want with the
$200 they get for each gun, that doesn't necessarily mean they take that money
and get a new piece, Ribando said. "If anyone who knows anything about
street guns, there's not much you can buy with $200, especially to
upgrade," he added.
Others question why police don't use the program as a way to
observe the gun-owners coming in and out to see if they fit the descriptions of
any wanted criminals and to potentially track down and arrest them.
"No,” said Ribando, “the whole point of this is to get
the illegal guns off the street, not to make an arrest for the gun," he said.
All serial numbers on the guns are checked, and if any guns are
connected to a crime, all police know is that they've gotten that gun off the
streets. "It's totally anonymous,” he said.
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