A near-record number of firearms were turned in on Saturday during the City of Buffalo’s annual gun buyback program.
Rifles. Handguns. BB guns. Nonworking guns. Even an old gangster “Tommy gun.”
In all, 760 firearms were turned over to the Buffalo Police Department in exchange for prepaid credit cards and, “No questions asked.”
“Today’s gun buyback is a success and a reminder to all of us that there are a lot of guns in the community,” Mayor Byron W. Brown said at the conclusion of the program on Saturday.
The day’s total was the second highest since the program began in 2007, when 878 firearms were turned in.
“This gun buyback effort is designed to get illegal and unwanted guns off the streets so that they don’t fall into the wrong hands,” Brown added. “We thank those members of the community who came forward and turned in unwanted or illegal guns. As we have said in the past, this is just one of dozens of strategies the Buffalo Police Department employs to make this community better.”
Brown visited the seven drop-off sites around the city on Saturday, including True Bethel Baptist Church, where he inspected some of the guns.
“Any handguns that look like they could be used on the street?” Brown asked Detective Cedric Holloway, who was taking in the guns at the counter.
“This one right here is a Beretta,” said Holloway, holding up the handgun.
“Wow,” Brown said.
“That’s a nasty one,” Holloway agreed.
A few minutes later, an elderly woman brought in two rifles and what appeared to be a handgun.
“What is it?” she asked, as Holloway inspected the weapon.
“It looks like a BB gun,” he said.
“Is that what it is?” she said. “I didn’t know what it was.”
“It’s worth $10.” Holloway told her.
She was thankful to get rid of them.
“I just don’t feel comfortable with these in the house,” the woman said, after receiving her prepaid cards.
The city paid out $34,340 for the 760 guns.
The prepaid credit cards issued Saturday were funded through a federal program using money that was seized during drug investigations. The prepaid cards were issued in amounts ranging from $10 to $100, depending on the type of gun: $50 for rifles and shotguns; $75 for handguns; and $100 for assault rifles.
Authorities did not ask questions of anyone who brought in a gun. Unlike when guns are seized during criminal investigations, these guns are destroyed and police do not try to determine whether the weapons were used during crimes.
Mike Pinnavaia of the Buffalo Police Department showed off the collection at the conclusion of the event on Saturday.
“This gun here has an interesting story,” he said, displaying an Uzi that a woman had turned in.
The weapon had been legally owned by her husband, but after his death her grandsons became curious and asked if they could have it, Pinnavaia said.
“She felt so good she was able to come in and have this legally brought to the city, taken off the street and kept out of her grandsons’ hands,” he said. “It gave her peace of mind.”
Since it began in 2007, the gun buyback program has taken more than 4,440 guns: 878 in 2007, 723 in 2008, 711 in 2009; 639 in 2011, 748 in 2012 and 760 on Saturday.
“We had a very successful day,” Buffalo Police Commission Daniel Derenda said. “We think we got some very dangerous weapons off the streets today.”