NIAGARA FALLS – Niagara Falls’ first-ever gun buyback Saturday reaped 150 weapons – an arsenal that moved Police Superintendent E. Bryan DalPorto to term the program “a tremendous success.”
Of the weapons surrendered for cash, just two of the 95 handguns and 55 long guns were nonfunctioning. DalPorto said the collection included some “nasty-looking sawed-off shotguns and altered guns. [If] you were looking down the barrel of them they could be pretty intimidating.”
Owners of the weapons filtered into the firehouse at 11th Street and Ontario Avenue throughout the day. With about $8,000 budgeted for the buyback, $100 was offered for rifles, $75 for handguns, $50 for shotguns and $10 for nonfunctioning guns.
“We’ll look ahead at doing it again down the road,” the superintendent added.
“If we can provide an outlet to citizens to get rid of guns they no longer want and we can get them off the street so they can’t potentially be used in any crime, then I think the program’s successful, whether we get one gun or a thousand guns,” he had said earlier.
The buyback is viewed as a means of making the city a safer place for both residents and tourists.
Amid the furor of state legislation on gun control, DalPorto pointed to some negative feedback on the program, but also noted community residents requested it, including Niagara County Legislator Owen Steed, a Democrat who represents the North End of Niagara Falls; city block clubs; and MAD DADs – all co-sponsors of the buyback.
“It is not my intent to infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment right and by no means are we doing this with the gun buyback,” DalPorto said. “If someone doesn’t want to turn in a gun, then they should stay at home and not participate in the program.”
Over the past few months, the Cataract City has experienced a spike in violence, including armed robberies at gas stations and convenience stores.
To address this, police are continuing to use computer data to identify problem areas and evaluate what can be improved to direct enforcement to needed areas.
“We’ve been meeting with stores to come up with some type of strategy, not only to apprehend these people, but also minimize this from happening in the future,” DalPorto said.
The mayor and City Council just approved $50,000 for a safe neighborhood patrol and another $25,000 for the Tourist Safe Initiative. Both programs will result in overtime for more officers.
“We can insert more officers into neighborhoods where they will be on bicycle patrol, walking beats, and in electric vehicles, weather permitting,” the commissioner said.
“We are putting more officers on patrol to break down the barrier of the windshield, where they can start talking to the residents and people can start seeing and recognizing officers,” he added. “We want the residents to feel safe, but also the tourists. This economy is driven by tourism, so we want tourists and residents to feel safe.”