A gun buyback event through the state Attorney General's Office collected 136 guns in exchange for prepaid debit cards

UTICA — A total of 136 guns were secured for destruction at a buyback event Friday at the Utica Recreation Center on Memorial Parkway.

The buyback event, hosted by the state Attorney General’s Office in collaboration with the Utica Police Department, paid up to a $100 prepaid debit card for each gun turned in on Friday. As a total amnesty program, no questions were asked about the guns collected.

The buyback event paid $25 for non-working or antique firearms, $50 for rifles or shotguns, $75 for handguns and $100 for assault weapons. There was no restriction on the number of guns each person could turn in at once.

“It encourages people to bring in guns who might otherwise be hesitant that their identities would be known or that someone would question their motives in owning a gun in the first place,” said Patricia Bordonaro, assistant attorney general in charge of the Utica regional office.

All of the guns collected had to be unloaded and placed in a plastic or paper bag or box. A variety of different firearms were turned in during the four-hour event, for a variety of different reasons.

People who inherited a gun or had a gun they were thinking of selling are among those who attend buyback events, Bordonaro said.

“There are many people who have guns lying around who no longer wish to have them around,” she said. “This is a great way for them to dispose of them and take those guns out of circulation in an effort to make the community a safer place.”

One local resident who attended the amnesty buyback program said he brought his guns to the buyback to ensure he didn’t have an illegal firearm in his home. While he said the buyback is a good program, he said he surrendered about $2,000 in guns for $475 in prepaid debit cards.

“I wish they paid more,” said the man, who wished not to be identified.

The funds for the prepaid debit cards are funded through criminal forfeiture funds seized by the state Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force.

According to the final tally provided by the state Attorney General’s office, of the 136 guns turned in there were 46 revolvers, 23 handguns, 45 rifles, 17 shotguns and five BB guns. Of the total guns collected, two meet the state classification of an assault rifle.

All of the guns collected at the buyback will be destroyed, Bordonaro said.

A gun buyback event in Utica in July 2018 netted 169 guns, including five assault weapons. Since the state Attorney General’s Office launched its gun buyback program in 2013, the office has collected more than 2,700 firearms across New York State.