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Faced with a bullet-ridden summer of violence, the Queens district attorney, the NYPD and state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Jamaica) held a gun buyback Saturday in Rochdale that netted 509 weapons, including an AK-47, authorities said.
The site of the buyback, at the New Jerusalem Baptist Church, at 122-05 Smith St., is the same spot where more than 1,000 people attended the funeral of Darryl Adams, an 18-year-old who was murdered March 2 near the South Jamaica Houses.
“Getting guns off the street and reducing crime has always been and remains a top priority of my office,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. “The ultimate goal of this law enforcement initiative is to get as many guns as possible off the streets of Queens County in order to reduce firearm violence and bring about safer neighborhoods for all residents.”
Firearms both legal and illegal were accepted at the church Saturday, where working handguns and pistols were exchanged for $200 bank cards and rifles and shotguns fetched $20, no questions asked, the DA said.
Calvin Rice, senior pastor at the church, which volunteered to host the program, said the event was record-breaking. It was also one way to stem the recent wave of shootings that have rocked southeast Queens.
“The goal is to try and get guns off the street and curtail some of this violence that has been happening here,” he said.
Rice presided over the March funeral of Adams, whose murder was captured on tape and a ring of teens arrested in connection with the slaying. His service was attended by hundreds of people, and activists began a stepped-up call to end gun violence that has echoed through the summer.
In one of the most high-profile murders in the last several months, three men were killed in a hail of bullets fired from an AK-47 in Springfield Gardens June 30.
The gangland-style triple homicide prompted an outcry from the community and a call for action from City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton).
During a press conference days afterward, Sanders chided Brown for not holding regular gun buybacks, calling it the longtime top prosecutor’s “blind spot.”
But the councilman was pleased so many firearms were taken off the streets after Saturday’s event.
“We are glad the DA has realized the usefulness of a gun buyback program,” Sanders said. “We wish it would have happened earlier, but the 500-plus guns taken off the street shows this is part of what is needed.”
Smith helped sponsor the buyback and pointed out that some people who brought firearms to the church would not typically be associated with gun violence.
“It was interesting. Some of the people looked like grandmothers carrying guns for a relative,” he said.
And that means the guns might have left the hands of someone who might commit a crime, Smith said.
People from outside the immediate area also leapt at the chance to get rid of unwanted firearms in a safe manner.
One woman who gave her name as Dawn drove from Westchester County to drop off three guns that had belonged to her father.
But critics said too many of the guns came from outside of the neighborhood and that the buyback was not effective in solving problems in southeast Queens.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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