NEW YORK—In light of the three men killed in a hail of gunfire on a Queens street early Saturday morning, Councilman James Sanders Jr. has called on the Queens district attorney (DA) to instate a gun buyback program in Queens.
The program would work in the same fashion as previous gun buyback programs throughout the city. People would receive $200 American Express cards for handguns, and $20 for shotguns and rifles.
Sanders said in a release that because Saturday’s shooting took place on a residential street, directly in front of a public school, it “only serves to drive home the dangers that have crept into our community.”
Family and friends of the three dead men told the New York Daily News that the killers had followed the victims, who were in a Jeep Grand Cherokee, from a nightclub in Brooklyn. One of the murdered men had looked at the wrong girl, a friend of a victims said.
The suspects fired more than 60 shots at the Jeep parked on 144th Street at 85th Avenue in Jamaica at around 5 a.m. Saturday morning. Two men were killed by the bullets as they sat inside the Jeep, one man was found outside the Jeep on the pavement, and a fourth man, who was being dropped off at home by the victims, survived but was wounded. Police said there were probably two shooters, one of them brandishing an AK-47.
“The NYPD here in Queens are at a disadvantage in dealing with these criminals, because they are missing a vital tool: a fully funded and supported gun buyback program, which encourages interaction and involvement between police and community in getting dangerous weapons off our streets,” Sanders said in a release.
This is not the first time Sanders has brought up the idea of a gun buyback in Queens. According to his spokesman, the NYPD is supportive of gun buyback programs, but would not be co-sponsoring monetarily, and the DA’s office usually says there is no money for it.
Sanders urged Queens DA Richard Brown to “set aside budgetary concerns” to implement a gun buyback program, and other programs that “encourage community self-policing.”
“No one is suggesting that a gun buyback program by itself will solve all of our problems, but it has been a proven, effective method of removing guns from our streets in the past,” Sanders said in a release.
In 2008, Sanders convinced the DA to hold a gun buyback, and more than 900 guns were traded in for $200 American Express cards in just six hours, which Sanders said is “almost as many as other programs like stop-and-frisk have removed since their inception.”
In a statement released by the Queens DA office, Brown said they were constantly in talks with the NYPD over when and where to hold these buybacks.
According to a spokesman for Sanders, the buyback program would be much more effective if it was held for longer than a 6-hour period and more frequently, but the city does have an ongoing buyback program.“I would remind individuals that they can currently turn in guns at their local police precinct and receive $100—no questions asked,” Brown said in the statement.
Sanders said police should further efforts to encourage community involvement “and to foster a relationship between residents and law enforcement based on mutual trust and respect” so as to not drive criminals further underground.
Seven people were killed in the city between Friday night and early Saturday morning. Another 21 people were injured in violent crimes, the New York Daily News reported.
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