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By James E. Giles, Murray Holman and Paul McQuillen

We recently observed Mayor Byron Brown’s seventh gun buyback. It was reported that more than 840 guns were surrendered. Of those, more than 500 were operational and 258 were handguns, for a seven-year total of almost 5,400 guns surrendered.

Contrary to some self-proclaimed pundits and writers to The Buffalo News, we applaud Brown’s gun buyback initiative.

Critics claim the guns surrendered are not the type used to commit crimes. However, the guns surrendered, even those just laying around in the attic or basement or closet, are the guns most likely to be found and used by children at play. These are the guns that most often result in a child taking a life, their own or that of another innocent child.

Critics belittle the program as a waste of taxpayer money. In reality taxpayers do not fund the program. The effort is financed by asset forfeiture funds acquired through the seizure of monies from illegal drugs and criminal activities.

Challenging those who deride the program, Brown said, “If we can get one gun, and just one gun, that might be used to harm a member of our community – then the gun buyback is all worth it.”

A similar program in Los Angeles County this year resulted in the smelting of more than 5,000 handguns, rifles, assault weapons and others. During its 20-year program, L.A. County has destroyed more than 178,000 weapons. You can’t tell us that doesn’t make a difference.

We agree, however, that more has to be done to keep and remove guns from the streets.

The Buffalo Police Department’s website lists 24 gun homicides this year, with only four cleared.

We can’t blame the police for the inability to close these cases. There are individuals out there who know something about these murders but aren’t talking. Community activists, the Peacemakers, Stop the Violence Coalition and others, have taken to the streets in an effort to quell the violence, but they can only do so much. The responsibility falls to each of us as individuals.

Arrests must be made, but until that time, it is important to keep guns off the street. Until such time as the flow of guns into New York through the “iron pipeline” from mostly Southern states is stopped, our children will die needlessly. Until such time as Congress enacts legislation calling for universal background checks, guns will be available across state lines without a trace.

There can be no dispute, however, that fewer guns on the street or in the home make both environments safer.

Pastor James E. Giles is president of Buffalo Peacemakers. Murray Holman is executive director of Stop the Violence Coalition. Paul McQuillen is WNY coordinator of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.