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500 Guns Swapped For Cash in Harlem: Are Buybacks Good?


In tough economic times, people are trying to make money any way they can — and one surprising example sneaks in community service too. In Harlem this weekend, five churches offered cash for weapons – no questions asked. Rifles, handguns, and shotguns were brought to the churches on Saturday and in return the unarmed were given a $200 bank card.

This program, sponsored by the NYPD and Manhattan DA’s office, was created over a dozen years ago in an effort to get guns off the streets and has been met with great success. So far about 5,000 have been removed from New York and over 500 of those in this last buyback. Two weeks ago Brooklyn churches purchased over 400 firearms.

Critics and proponents are at odds over the efficacy of gun buyback programs. Skeptics say, "It's like trying to drain the Pacific with a bucket. More guns are going to flow in." Though Oakland held a popular buyback this Spring where more than 1,000 guns were swapped for $170,000. Is cash an effective way to drain dangerous weapons from the streets?

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