Gun buy-back hits the mark once more - Police program convinces many to turn in their deadly weapons

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Brooklyn’s holy rolling gun grab continued this past weekend, with a Coney Island church leading the borough’s efforts to rid the streets of illegal firearms.

Official from the Kings County District Attorney’s office said that 411 guns, rifles, shotguns and sawed-off shotguns were collected at six southern Brooklyn churches during the one day gun-buyback program, in which residents receive a $200 bank card for every weapon they bring in – no questions asked.

Nearly a third of the guns recovered came from one house of worship – the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Solace, 1717 Mermaid Avenue.

“I would have liked to see twice that many guns,” said Pastor Patrick J. West, who said that 130 guns in total were recovered. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m not shocked.”

West said that he was happy to see the gun buyback program – the borough’s second — sweep through his community.

“Less guns on the streets means less violence and more secure streets,” he said. “One person may lose their life to gun violence, but they’re not the only victims. Their families are left devastated.”

Prosecutors said that an additional 93 guns were dropped off Saint Anthony Baptist Church, 425 Utica Avenue. Sixty-five guns were handed over at Our Lady of Refuge, at 2020 Foster Avenue in Flatbush.

Other churches participating in the day-long program included the Immanuel & First Spanish Methodist Church, 424 Dean Street, where 68 guns were found, the Restoration Temple Assembly of God, 4606-10 Church Avenue, in which 22 people entered to hand over their firearms and St. Albans Episcopal Anglican Church at 9408 Farragut Road in Canarsie, where 33 guns were recovered.

Guns collected included 117 revolvers, 86 semi-automatic handguns, nine sawed-off shotguns, five assault weapons, 94 rifles, 55 shotguns and 45 various other weapons.

The guns will be put through ballistic tests, and then melted down and reborn as wire hangers, said Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes.

“The success of this program goes a long way towards reducing violent crime,” Hynes said. “Every gun that is taken off the street could lead to one less robbery, assault or murder.”

Hynes said that the six churches who participated in the program showed their “commitment to getting guns off the streets and making Brooklyn a safer place.”

Those who handed in the weapons were given a $200 Chase bank card which they could use to pull money out of an ATM or to buy merchandise.

Functional BB guns and air pistols could be exchanged for a $20 bank card.

The money for the purchases came from the NYPD and drug forfeiture money collected by Brooklyn prosecutors.

Back in July, 697 guns were dropped off at six churches in northern Brooklyn during a similar buy back program.

Updated 3:43 pm, October 19, 2011
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