Last Saturday, the New York City Police Department and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. purchased 139 guns in Harlem through a buyback event designed to take weapons off city streets. Similar recent events brought in far more firearms than D.A. Vance’s effort.
D.A. Vance’s “Cash for Guns” bonanza took place at Bethel Gospel Assembly Church in East Harlem and St. Joseph of the Holy Family R.C. Church in West Harlem. Rifles and shotguns were purchased for $20 bank cards while handguns were sold for more respectable $200 cards, with no questions asked. The district attorney announced the results of the event in a statement released yesterday.
“Gun violence continues to threaten the safety and security of our neighborhoods — any crime prevention effort must include taking illegal guns off the streets. … Our gun buyback took 139 dangerous weapons out of our neighborhoods, and will hopefully save lives,” D.A. Vance said.
Past gun buyback programs had greater success than D.A. Vance’s Harlem handgun shopping spree. Rev. Al Sharpton co-hosted a gun buyback with the NYPD to celebrate the holiday season in Harlem last year. Rev. Sharpton’s event netted 354 guns. D.A. Vance’s predecessor, Robert Morgenthau, who was Manhattan District Attorney from 1975 until his retirement in 2009, used to do his gun buybacks on a much larger scale. In 2008, he held a four day buyback that brought in 744 guns.
D.A. Vance is having a rough start to his time in the city prosecutor’s office. This summer, his office fumbled the high profile Dominique Strauss Kahn case and New York is currently bucking national trends with an increase in violent crime.