A Tompkins County city is heading a new initiative in the area to get firearms off the streets. As our Elyse Mickalonis explains, police hope this new program will help stop people from getting hurt following several shooting tragedies over the last few months.
ITHACA, N.Y. -- Over the past few months, the nation has seen what can happen when a gun is placed in the wrong hands and now Ithaca and Tompkins County police are taking action to get illegal and unwanted firearms off the streets.
“In October, Officer Augustine was shot, in Webster a couple of firefighters and police officers were shot and Sandy Hook, a horrible tragedy. This isn’t the only solution, the only thing that will help, but it will help,” said Jamie Williamson, Ithaca Police Department.
Police collected guns at the Green Street Fire Department and Airport Fire and Rescue Building on Saturday as part of a gun buyback program. Officers say lots of people showed up.
“We’ve seen a mixed demographic, not only male, female, anywhere from teenagers to adults and we’ve seen people from as far as Elmira and many local residents,” said Sgt. Jake Young, Ithaca Police Department.
Those giving up guns could earn up to $200 in cash depending on the gun, no questions asked. Police say they hope to make the area safer for civilians, first responders and police officers, as well as keep guns away from youngsters.
“If it’s not secured properly and stored properly, a child can get a hold of it and injure himself and somebody else,” said Williamson . “We’re not here to take away anyone’s right to bear arms, just here to make sure there aren’t any illegal or unsecured guns.”
Police say there’s no chance of these guns ever going back on the street, because they’re all going to be destroyed.
"I mean, we stay right with the process until they go to the point to of being melted down. An officer will observe them being chopped into pieces and then sent to recycling,” said Young.
Making sure that these guns won't harm anyone.
The program was made possible by donations and the police department's seized assets.
Thirty-three handguns, as well as 27 shotguns and rifles, were collected by the end of the day Saturday at the Green Street Fire Department Station. Numbers for the amount of guns collected at the Tompkins County Airport Fire and Rescue building location will not be released until Monday.