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Nassau County gun buyback program nets about 300 weapons

Nassau County investigator Robert McHugh enters a rifle

Nassau County investigator Robert McHugh enters a rifle into the system during the "gun buyback" program at the Judea United Baptist Church in Hempstead, on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Nassau County residents handed over nearly 300 guns at the county’s first buyback program in more than a year.

A line of people, many clad in ball caps and sunglasses, snaked around Judea United Baptist Church in Hempstead on Saturday morning. Because so many people showed up, officials extended the buyback an extra 30 minutes after it was scheduled to end.

The program was a joint effort by County Executive Edward Mangano, District Attorney Madeline Singas, acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter and the Hempstead Village Police Department. Gun owners were allowed to anonymously give up their weapons, no questions asked, in exchange for money.

“It’s important for people to know they can turn in guns,” Singas said at the church.

Working rifles earned $100 apiece, handguns $200 and assault rifles $400. The money comes from the county’s asset-forfeiture funds, and Saturday’s payouts totaled $51,800.

Police and district officials filled bins and crates with discarded and disabled weapons, collecting 188 handguns, 98 long guns and 11 assault rifles overall. Singas said all the collected firearms will be destroyed.

The last buyback, held in Long Beach in 2015, netted about 200 guns, Singas said.

Saturday marked the county’s 17th buyback, said Patrick Ryder, second deputy commissioner of Nassau County police. Over the program’s history, police have reclaimed more than 4,000 guns.

Still, he said the real value of the program isn’t the number of guns taken in, but its effect on community crime levels, which have been falling. Singas said families and grandparents often come in to dispose of weapons, wanting to protect young children.

“Every time you take a gun, it’s one less time a house gets broken into and a bad guy takes it or a child picks it up,” Ryder said. “This is one piece of the puzzle that helps us reduce crime.”

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