James takes 98 guns off streets at Utica gun buyback

City of Utica police officers pose with the guns recovered during a gun buy back program.
Office of New York Attorney General Letitia James

New York Attorney General, Letitia James on Saturday announced that 98 firearms were turned in to law enforcement at a gun buyback event hosted by her office and the Utica Police Department.

James said the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) accepts — with no questions asked — working and non-working, unloaded firearms in exchange for compensation on site.

To date, James has taken nearly 2,100 firearms out of communities through gun buyback events and other efforts since taking office in 2019.

“Gun violence continues to devastate our neighborhoods and endanger the welfare of our communities,” James said. “From taking down violent drug rings fueling this crisis to hosting gun buybacks and supporting organizations committed to curbing this violence — we are taking every step possible to stop this violence and protect our families from harm.

“My office remains committed to ensuring that New Yorkers are safe, and we thank our partners in law enforcement for their shared commitment in this effort,” she added.

The attorney general said Saturday’s community gun buyback resulted in 98 guns being collected, including 53 handguns, 29 shotguns and rifles, 15 non-working or antique guns, and an assault rifle.

Since 2013, James said the OAG has hosted gun buyback events throughout New York state and has successfully collected more than 4,000 firearms.

In exchange for the firearms, she said OAG also offered monetary compensation, in the form of prepaid gift cards, and Apple iPads, when an unloaded gun was received and secured by an officer on site.

“The gun buyback program is an innovative way residents can responsibly and safely dispose of unwanted firearms,” said Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri. “I commend Attorney General James for coordinating this initiative as the city of Utica and our Police Department are supportive of this effort.”

James said gun violence is a public health crisis that is plaguing communities throughout New York, stating that Saturday’s event was the latest action that she has taken to combat this crisis and protect New Yorkers from harm.

This year alone, James said she has held 11 gun buybacks across the state, and has also secured dozens of dangerous firearms through take downs of violent groups terrorizing New York.

Last month, James announced the takedown of two major drug trafficking rings in Central New York in which 15 guns, including nine ghost guns, were seized.

To date, she said she has taken a total of nearly 2,100 guns out of communities since 2019.

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