NEW YORK, New York Hundreds of guns were turned over in Syracuse on Saturday by owners responding to a buyback.
New York Attorney General Letitia James confirmed that 342 firearms were turned in to law enforcement at the buyback hosted by her office and the City of Syracuse.
It was the largest gun buyback in the Office of the Attorney General's history - and comes in the wake of an increase in gun violence in Syracuse.
Authorities sought to curb this devastation by accepting - with no questions asked - working and non-working, unloaded firearms in exchange for compensation on site. To date, nearly 2,000 firearms have been taken out of communities through gun buyback events and other efforts since James took office in 2019.
"Gun violence continues to claim lives and threaten communities throughout our state," said New York's attorney general said Saturday. "With the spike in gun violence ravaging neighborhoods in Syracuse, it is more important than ever that we use every tool at our disposal to protect our families and children. Whether it is taking down the violent drug rings fueling this crisis, hosting gun buybacks, or supporting community groups that are addressing this violence - we are vigorously combating this crisis from every angle. Every gun that was turned in today represents a potential tragedy averted and a potential life saved, and we are grateful to our partners for their support."
Of the 342 guns confiscated on Saturday there were 176 handguns, 119 shotguns and rifles, 11 assault rifles, and 36 non-working or antique guns.
In exchange for the firearms, owners were offered monetary compensation, in the form of prepaid gift cards, and Apple iPads when an unloaded gun was received and secured by an officer on site.
"To successfully combat systemic gun violence requires a multifaceted approach that includes law enforcement, community based interventions, keeping kids in school, and offering them a path to a career," New York State Senator John Mannion said Saturday.
"Gun buybacks are a proven way to limit gun violence in communities," said State Senator Rachel May. "
"Gun violence is alarming in Syracuse, New York state, and across our country," said State Assembly member Pamela Hunter. "I will continue to fight for commonsense gun legislation to protect the residents of New York. In the meantime, gun buyback programs, like the Attorney General's, are critically important to get guns off the streets and out of the wrong hands. I'm certain that this program will ultimately save lives."
"I thank Attorney General James for bringing this gun buyback program to the city of Syracuse. I also commend the people in our community who are taking the initiative to turn in weapons that need to be off our streets and out of our homes," Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said Saturday. "Gun violence is a crisis facing cities around the country, including Syracuse. We need to use every strategy available to reduce it. After this gun buyback, I'm confident our city will be safer. And our work to address gun violence on every front will continue."
Ten gun buybacks have been staged across New York state this year.