By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — While critics question the effectiveness of gun buy-back programs, Falls police are preparing to launch an initiative they hope will keep some guns off the streets and promote firearms safety.
“We’ve looked at other successful (gun buy-back) programs and we’re partnering it with the HEAT (Help Eliminate Armed Thugs), which is a targeted enforcement program, and we think it will help,” police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said.
In addition to offering cash for guns, city cops will also be offering free trigger locks for gun owners who want to increase their storage safety.
The Falls Police Firearms Training Unit will also be preparing a gun safety course as part of the overall buy-back program.
“We want to focus on the safe handling and storage of firearms,” Narcotics Detective John Faso, who is running the program, said. “We’re not trying to show people how to use the weapons, but how to be safe with them.”
The announcement of the buy-back program, set for Feb. 23, comes on the heels of the passage of the NY SAFE Act, which imposes new controls on firearms in the state. The act bans the sale of assault weapons and limits the size of ammunition magazines among other provisions.
DalPorto said the Falls buy-back program was in the works long before the NY SAFE Act was passed.
“It has no connection to the SAFE Act,” he said. “County Legislator Own Steed was able to facilitate some funds for us that we could use for gun violence reduction and we could use in connection with our (federal) HEAT grant.”
The new police superintendent said he is aware of people who criticize buy-back programs as only taking in old and non-working weapons or guns from people who legally own them.
“There’s no real way to gauge (that argument),” DalPorto said. “(The guns that are purchased) may not be the guns that are being used in robberies and home invasions, but they may be the target of burglars who will sell them on the street to those who do the robberies and home invasions. So a legal gun could become an illegal gun very quickly.”
Dalporto said the program has the support of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. It’s also being conducted in cooperation with the Niagara Falls Block Club Council and MAD DADS.
“We think we have pretty good support in the community and the community has been asking for this,” the superintendent said. “We’re trying to be responsive.”use mug of DalPorto Bryan DalPorto Partnering with HEAT