Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - In its sixth year of collecting guns in a gun buyback program, the City of Buffalo program gathered 760 weapons in the day-long effort Saturday. In the first hour alone, 200 guns were turned in.
Those who turned weapons in were given donated gift certificates, ranging from $10 to $100.
In each year, most guns came from North and South Buffalo, rather than the violence plagued East side.
In 2012, handguns were outstripped by guns that didn't work, but over the entire 5 years of the program, slightly more handguns were turned in. Much more money was spent on handguns in total due to differing prices each year.
The 2012 program brought in 294 guns that didn't function (total cost: $2,940), 253 handguns ($18, 975 paid out ) , 193 rifles or shotguns ($9,650 paid out ) and 5 assault weapons ($500 ), according to the audit.
The effort cost $15,00 in overtime, the audit said.
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While academic studies nationwide are skeptical about how effective such programs are at reducing crime, Brown maintains that it is an essential part of his anti-crime strategy.
“I recognize that this single Gun BuyBack effort will not eliminate the illegal weapons on our city streets,” said Mayor Brown in a prepared statement.
“We may never know how many crimes we’ve prevented as a result of past Gun BuyBack events, but we do know there won’t be a tragic shooting in Buffalo tied to the guns we collected,” Brown said.
Several academic studies say such programs are far better at community outreach than actually reducing gun crime.
" The theory underlying gun buy-back programs is badly flawed and the empirical evidence demonstrates the ineffectiveness of these programs,." "
--The National Research Council's committee on Law and Justice in a 2004 report. "The theoretical premise for gun buy-back programs is that the program will lead to fewer guns on the streets because fewer guns are available for either theft or trade, and that consequently violence will decline.," the National Research Council study wrote. " The theory... is badly flawed."
Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda disagrees.
"We believe that it has been effective. We can never prove that it has saved a life but I believe it has. ..1,359 handguns alone have been turned in in the previous five gun buybacks. That's a huge number of handguns, and I believe that most of those guns would be illegal. I don't know too many permit holders turning in handguns"
The rare Republican running for mayor this year, is one of the many that is critical of the concept, calling it ineffective.
Sergio Rodriguez says the way the event is promoted- with Mayor Brown's name on bus shelters and billboards- speaks to the real purpose as an annual publicity tool.
"I've seen at least four or five billboards. Big Letters: 'Byron Brown, city of Buffalo Gun Buyback program.' So this seems to be more about him than actually putting in place and implementing .programs that are effective in fighting crime in the city," Rodriguez says.
To help promote the Gun BuyBack effort, Lamar Outdoor Advertising has provided billboard space throughout the city and the NFTA has Gun BuyBack signs in bus shelters throughout the city.
Neighborhood leaders involved in the anti violence effort say community outreach is an essential part of the anti violence effort.
"I've been to 10 funerals this year, and violence has plagued this community," says Leonard Lane of MAD DADs. "The only way we are going to decrease violence is to stand up and speak out and do something about it."
Rodriguez acknowledges that the effort may have a role in community police work, but says that in some cases people could buy guns for less money than the city program pays, and actually traffic in guns for profit.