Bloomberg News

New York Police to Pay $200 for Handguns in Buyback Program

October 20, 2011

(Updates with gun-ownership restrictions in 12th paragraph)

Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and the New York Police Department will give $200 bank cards to anyone turning in a working handgun as part of a program to get illegal guns off New York streets.

The buyback, slated to run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 22, will be preceded by a vigil the night before to raise awareness of gun violence among young people, according to a statement today from Vance’s office. This year, of the 249 people indicted for possessing loaded guns, 21 percent were 18 or younger when arrested, Vance’s office said.

“Senseless deaths, like the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Tayshana Murphy last month, remind us how the lives of young men and women are cut short too often by gun violence,” Vance said.

Murphy, a senior at Murray Bergtraum High School and one of the top basketball point-guard prospects in the country according to sports network ESPN, was murdered Sept. 11 in a hallway of a Manhattan housing project.

The buyback program, which began in 2008, has removed more than 7,000 guns from the street, according to New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. State Senator Bill Perkins said in a statement that the buyback is one of the most cost-effective government programs because it curtails surgery and hospital costs, reduces missed workdays and curbs insurance payouts.

‘Too Many Guns’

“There are just too many guns on the streets and getting them off the streets is not a solution totally, but it helps,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in an unrelated press briefing today in Brooklyn.

Bloomberg is co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of more than 600 U.S. mayors which separately today called for the U.S. Senate to reject legislation that would force most states to recognize out-of-state permits to carry hidden, loaded weapons.

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

While overall crime has dropped in New York City, gun and gang-related violence has increased, Vance’s office said. Of the 49 homicides in Manhattan so far this year, 22 were committed with a gun, according to the statement.

‘Candlelight Vigil’

The “Survivors of Gun Violence Candlelight Vigil” on Oct. 21 will be at Bethel Gospel Assembly Church in Harlem. The gun exchange, in which illegal guns can be turned in with no consequences, will also be held there, as well as two other Harlem locations: 2-26 East 120th Street and St. Joseph of the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church.

For each working rifle or shotgun turned in, $20 bank cards will be issued. Throughout the year, individuals can turn in handguns at any time to a police precinct. In return, they get $100 and must wait to receive the money.

Gun-control laws permit gun ownership for most people in most instances while often imposing controls such as criminal- background checks, waiting periods and minimum purchase ages. Gun shows in some states sell firearms without oversight. New York, Colorado, Connecticut and some other states require background checks at gun shows, according to Legal Community Against Violence, a public-interest law center based in San Francisco.

The penalty for illegal gun possession in New York is a 3 1/2-year prison sentence. A law increased the minimum sentence in 2007, creating the toughest law in the U.S.

--With assistance from Esme E. Deprez and Will Daley in New York. Editors: Fred Strasser, Stephen Farr

To contact the reporter on this story: Tiffany Kary in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at

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