"We took 55 guns off the street in our last buy-back program," said Public Safety Commissioner Michael Leggiero at a press conference held on Sept. 12 to announce the beginning of the second buy-back program. "So we are convinced that this program works."
The Union City Police Department, in conjunction with the city's housing authority, is sponsoring the program. A United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Drug Elimination grant is funding the program.
"The intent of this program is to help bring down the number of firearms in America today," said Sgt. John Annillo.
"People have guns in their homes that they don't want, but don't know how to dispose of," added Public Safety Commissioner Michael Leggiero. "It is far better to turn the guns into us with no questions asked then to take the chance of having the guns wind up on the streets as a result of a burglary."
A voucher for a cash payment will be given for each firearm turned in and will be honored at the housing authority office on Kennedy Boulevard.
Payments are given on a tiered basis ranging from $50 for a rifle or shotgun and going as high as $150 for an assault firearm.
"If we can save even one person's life," said Leggiero. "Or one family the grief of losing a loved one, then this program is working."
However, Police Chief Norman Bareis doesn't feel that more than this program is necessary.
"It is my policy that anyone who comes in to receive a gun permit should be able to show proof that they have a safe place to keep the gun," said Bareis. Bareis said a receipt for the purchase of a gun safe is an example. He also noted that he asks for proof that a person is able to handle the gun properly.
A success story
Among the 55 guns collected through the first program, two were assault weapons, a M1 Carbile and a Teck 9 machine gun. Two sawed off shotguns and a Derringer were also turned in.
"These are weapons only designed to kill," said Annillo.
However, while no questions are asked when the guns are turned in, the firearms are traced to find out if they were involved in a past crime.
According to Annillo, the department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms traces the guns. Annillo also said that the results from the screening in May have not been returned, so the city still does not know if any of the guns were used in past crimes.
After the screening, all guns that are turned in must be destroyed.
The program began on Sept. 13 and will run through Sept. 20. All residents can bring guns that they wish to turn in to Union City's Police Headquarters, located in City Hall at 3715 Palisade Ave. Residents who cannot get to City Hall can call the police department at 348-5790 to have the firearm picked up.
All firearms must be unloaded, securely wrapped in paper, and secured with tape or tied with string.