Irrespective of one’s position on the meaning and scope of the Second Amendment, attorneys and citizens of New Jersey should endorse the gun “buy back” program being developed and implemented by county prosecutors, and in Essex County jointly by the Bar Foundation and the County Prosecutor’s Office. Although legislation was passed by both the Senate and Assembly in early January 2018 to establish a gun “buy back” program through the Office of the Attorney General, that legislation was opposed for a number of reasons, including objection to the use of taxpayer money or tax incentives to fund an effort that includes the purchase of firearms illegally possessed. The legislation resulted in a pocket veto at the end of the legislative session.
Nevertheless, county prosecutors, knowing the dangers and concerns related to the possession of firearms, have initiated such programs. One was conducted by the Hudson County prosecutor last fall, with the economic support of a medical center, and the Essex County Bar Foundation raised $75,000 from attorneys and law firms to fund the purchase of the firearms in the amount of up to $250 each. During a recent buy-back day in Newark, individuals were able to “sell” up to three guns each at a church in Newark, with no questions asked, and with no adverse consequences to anybody who turned in a gun.
We applaud the effort to get guns off the streets where they may be used illegally or cause injury by accident. And we applaud the attorneys, businesses and citizens who have made contributions to support these programs. We hope the effort will be expanded with support of the bar.