A gun buyback program that operated out of five Harlem churches yielded the most guns ever surrendered in a single day, reports the New York Daily News. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said 744 revolvers, semiautomatic pistols, sawed-off shotguns, assault weapons and rifles were turned in last Saturday. The New York Police Department and the Manhattan district attorney’s office split the program’s cost: $200 for each gun. District Attorney Robert Morgenthau used money seized from drug dealers to pay its share of the bill. “I can’t think of a better way to recycle drug money than to use it to buy guns,” he said.
The Rev. Calvin Butts of the Abyssinian Baptist Church praised officials for sticking to their promise of “no questions asked.” “One guy sent his friend in first and said, ‘If they don’t hassle you, I’ll bring mine.'” Butts said that young man entered the church with his gun after his friend left unscathed. One “entrepreneur” had nine guns to turn in, but there was a limit of $600 that could be given to any one person. Kelly said most of the guns surrendered were in excellent condition, and he acknowledged that they could be sold on the street for much more than the owners got Saturday. Jacqueline Rowe Adams of Harlem Mothers SAVE, said the program has given mothers like her who have lost children to gun violence a sense of hope and purpose. Adams said her group is urging parents to get ready for the next buyback day: “Look under those mattresses and in their shoeboxes. Frisk your kids at the door!”