Turn in your gun, no questions asked. On top of that, receive a gift card for groceries. That was the deal for residents in the first of a series of gun buybacks in Orange County. Our Eva McKend was in Newburgh for the event.
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -- Officials across Orange County say the way to save lives is to get guns off the streets.
The city of Newburgh held the first in a series of initiatives aimed to do just that. Turning in a gun got you a ShopRite gift card between $25 and $150, no questions asked.
"It gets a gun off the street that could get into the hands of somebody else and it gives people that might have something in their hands an easy way to get rid of it before it hurts anybody," said Newburgh officer William Lahar.
Only a handful of guns were turned in Saturday at the Newburgh Community Action Building on Grand Street, but police received even more guns at the actual police station. Those that participated said the buyback was a good way to get rid of their guns and send a message to their community.
"I think it’s necessary for people who have worked and lived in the black community for years who have witnessed first hand gun activity, gun violence and gun assaults to be proactive and take some of these guns of the street," said Newburgh resident Dick Peterson.
"It was my father’s gun and nobody in the family knew we had it, how we acquired it, but when he died we found it in his possessions. I just locked it away," said Poughkeepsie resident Larry White.
Last year, shooting incidents were up almost 30 percent in Newburgh. All of the guns collected at the buyback will be destroyed. Activists say having the opportunity to surrender a weapon with no criminal consequences could make a difference in the city.
"We deal a lot with the families of those who have lost loved ones as well as those who have been negatively impacted by gun violence. This is a great step to actually go in the right direction. We want Newburgh to be safe for communities and safe for our children," said Newburgh Community Action Committee Executive Director (NCAC) Jade Greene.
Police will continue the gun buyback program through mid-March. They say no matter the amount of guns they receive, any illegal gun off the street can help reduce crime.