2009-02-27 / Front Page

Bloomberg Hails Gun Buyback At 101 Precinct

By Miriam Rosenberg

Seventeen semi-auto pistols. Four assault weapons. Five sawed-off shotguns.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown discuss one of the 919 guns collected during last week's gun buyback in Southeast Queens, following a press conference at the 101 Precinct on Monday to report on the success of the program. Of the guns collected on February 21, 168 of them were handed in within the confines of the two Rockaway precincts. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown discuss one of the 919 guns collected during last week's gun buyback in Southeast Queens, following a press conference at the 101 Precinct on Monday to report on the success of the program. Of the guns collected on February 21, 168 of them were handed in within the confines of the two Rockaway precincts. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg These heavy-duty weapons were among those taken off Rockaway streets last weekend during the first Gun Buyback program ever held in Queens County.

The Rockaway precincts netted 168 guns (108 from the 100 Precinct, 60 guns from the 101 Precinct) last Saturday.

In all, 919 guns were collected at six sites in the precincts that were part of "The Queens South Guns Buyback Program" held by the NYPD on February 21.

Approximately 80 of the weapons collected last weekend were on display during a press conference held by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown at the 101 Precinct Tuesday morning.

Everything from handguns, to an Uzi to pen guns were collected on February 21. Of the 919 weapons, 168 came from the two Rockaway precincts. Everything from handguns, to an Uzi to pen guns were collected on February 21. Of the 919 weapons, 168 came from the two Rockaway precincts. "Saturday marked our sixth buyback event and as you can see from the large number of guns on this table, it was a big success," said Bloomberg. "Six churches in the areas of St. Albans, Jamaica and the Rockaways helped us collect more than 900 guns - the most ever collected in a single buyback day."

Over the last six months, more than 3,500 guns have been removed from the streets of Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan and Queens.

"That's 3,500 guns that won't land up on our streets in the hands of criminals, won't be involved in tragic household accidents or crimes, and won't ever be pointed at police officers or innocent civilians," continued Bloomberg.

Kelly said gun use in city homicides has dropped from 65 percent to 57 percent last year.

"What you see here is evidence of the success of the buyback program. What you also see is tangible evidence of lives being saved," said Kelly.

Kelly added that the department was encouraged by the trends not only across the city, but locally in Far Rockaway as well.

"We're very encouraged by what's happening here in Far Rockaway, which is no stranger to violence," said Kelly. "Right here in this precinct everything is down this year … [there's] a 15 percent decrease in crime. We've had no homicides. We've had no shootings during that period of time."

The district attorney called last weekend's gun buyback an extraordinary success.

"I think it's fair to say that we have a much safer Rockaways and Southeast Queens today as a result of what occurred last Saturday."

Brown believes the involvement of churches and other members of the community in the buyback program "sends a very strong message to every one that if the communities stand up and say no to violence, it can accomplish a great deal."

The dropoff sites in Rockaway included the First Baptist Church in Redfern and the Macedonia Baptist Church on Beach 67 Street.

The Rev. Duane Sleet, of the First Baptist Church, was heartened by the event.

"While I was present I saw many people coming to bring in guns, and I was very happy that there was a collaboration between the police and the district attorney's office," said Sleet.

He continued by saying, "We just appreciate everything that was done and the collaboration and we're very prayerful that we will continue to see this happen in the Rockaways, especially by Redfern, because there's so much that's been going on and this was a very positive toward that end."

Danny Ruscillo, the president of the 100 Precinct Community Council told The Wave, "I think we should do this on a yearly basis, like I asked the mayor, and it seems like they're probably going to do it, which I think is great."

He added, "It will make the streets safer, make the community safer, stop a murder, maybe the child pulling out a gun that the parents don't know is in a closet or something like that."

The breakdown for the weapons turned into the Rockaway precincts is: the 100 Precinct - 33 revolvers, 11 semi-automatic pistols, two sawed-off shotguns, four assault weapons, 25 rifles, and 13 shotguns; the 101 Precinct - 15 revolvers, six semi-automatic pistols, three sawed off shotguns, no assault weapons, 13 rifles, and nine shotguns. Thirty-four guns (20 from the 100 and 14 from the 101) not falling into any of the above categories were also collected.

Deputy Inspector Brian McMahon, the commanding officer of the 101 Precinct, said, "It [this buyback] was quite successful. We've had a nice reduction in shootings this year, so we look forward to doing another one."

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