On Saturday Jan. 22, the program took in 72 weapons and spent $9,300.
The gun buy-back program, initiated by Mayor Jerramiah Healy and Ward F Councilwoman Viola Richardson in cooperation with the Jersey City Police Department and the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office, was put in motion as people bought in their handguns, shotguns, and automatic firearms in return for cash and amnesty from prosecution. The guns were brought to designated sites across Jersey City where police officers and firearms experts monitored the handing over of the weapons.
The program is scheduled to continue over the weekends starting Jan. 28 and Feb. 4.
Information on the results of the first weekend of Operation Lifesaver was issued from the Mayor's Office last week.Operation Lifesaver - weekend one
An amount of $150 was paid to those who brought in handguns, rifles and shotguns; $250 was paid to those who brought in automatic weapons, and $25 was paid for BB guns.
A detailed breakdown of the types of guns received, and how many were received at the designated sites, are as follows:
St. Nicholas Church (122 Ferry St.) - 33 handguns, 26 rifles, five BB guns.
Mt. Olive Church (400 Arlington Ave.) - 16 handguns and one rifle.
Monumental Baptist Church (121-127 Lafayette St.) - 10 handguns, two rifles, and one shotgun.
First Wesleyan Church (201 Woodlawn Ave.) - 23 handguns, 21 rifles, four BB guns and two pen guns.
Viola Richardson's Civic Association (153 Martin Luther King Drive) - six handguns, four rifles and one BB gun.
St. Michael's Methodist Church (37 Virginia Ave.) - 22 handguns, six rifles, two shotguns and two BB guns.
St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church (524 Summit Ave.) - 25 handguns, 25 rifles, eight BB guns and one shotgun. Reactions to the first weekend
Richardson spent the first two days of Operation Lifesaver monitoring the gun buy-back at the headquarters of her civic association, a designated site. She said that she took a day off from her regular job working in the Hudson County prison system on Friday in order to make sure that the program ran smoothly.
"It was an impressive effort, and it can only get better the next two weekends," she said. "We have gotten the word out with advertising in the newspapers; myself and Mayor Healy did a spot for Operation Lifesaver for cable, and as a result, the people responded," said Richardson. "But I am working on trying to get young people that are carrying guns on our streets to bring them in."
Richardson pointed out that many youngsters are hesitant to bring in their guns out of fear that the gun buy-back is a "trap" to find out where they got the guns from if they were acquired illegally.
Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio was unable to appear at any of the Operation Lifesaver sites, but based on information he received from the Jersey City Police Department, he said it "was a successful venture." Scout leader rebuffed
There was also a bizarre sideshow to the weekend when a Boy Scout troop leader traveled from Maryland to Jersey City with a trunk full of target rifles with the intention of handing them in for cash.
It was reported in the local daily newspaper that the individual went to two of the designated sites intending to sell single shot rifles since his Boy Scout Troop had no more use for the rifles, but was turned away by the Jersey City police as he was informed that Operation Lifesaver was a gun buy-back program to take guns off the streets of Jersey City. For more information about Operation Lifesaver, call (201) 547-5500, or fax (201) 547-4288. Donations may be made by sending a check or money order payable to City of Jersey City/Operation Lifesaver Program, P.O. BOX 335, Jersey City, NJ 07303. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org