Niagara Gazette

February 22, 2013

Gun buyback today

Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — It's an attempt to deal with the rising problem of guns flooding the streets of the Cataract City.

From noon to 5 p.m. today, city cops will be looking to buyback as many guns as they can as part of a broad strategy to quell violence on the streets.

“We’ve looked at other successful programs," Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said. "And we're (doing the buyback program) in conjunction with our HEAT (Help Eliminate Armed Thugs) grant, which is a targeted enforcement program. We think it will help."

Police are offering bounties of $10 for non-working guns, $50 for working shotguns or rifles, $75 for handguns and $100 for assault rifles. They will also accept unwanted live ammunition, no questions asked.

In addition to the cash for guns, city cops will be offering free trigger locks to legal gun owners who want to increase their storage safety. They will also provide an opportunity for Falls' residents to sign up for gun safety training information provided by the department's Firearms Training Unit.

“We want (people) to focus on the safe handling and storage of firearms,” Det. 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.”

Some firearms rights activists have questioned the effectiveness of gun buyback programs. DalPorto acknowledged that criticism.

“There’s no real way to gauge (that argument),” DalPorto said. “(The guns that are purchased in the buyback program) 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.”

Guns and ammunition should be brought to the Falls Fire Department's Ontario Avenue Fire Station at 11th Street and Ontario Avenue.