After last year's groceries-for-guns program in Camden netted only 57 weapons, law enforcement officials are sweetening the pot in a new program by offering up to $250 in cash per firearm, up from $100 in vouchers.
"I think upping the ante does help," Camden County Prosecutor Warren W. Faulk said in announcing the $100,000, two-day cash-for-guns program, along with state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa, other law enforcement officials, and members of the community.
The event will take place between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. next Friday and Dec. 15 at two city churches - Antioch Baptist Church at Seventh Street and Ferry Avenue, and Higher Ground Temple on Vine Street.
Camden County residents can turn in up to three firearms each, no questions asked, said Chiesa. Payment will be on a sliding scale, with the highest amount paid for operable high-end weapons.
Funding comes from forfeiture money recovered from drug dealers and other offenders, Chiesa said.
"There are too many guns on the street and too many people dying as a result of gun violence," he said.
Officials collected 700 guns in a buyback in Newark in 2009, he noted, though he could not say whether it affected gun violence in the city.
"Common sense tells us that the less guns there are, the less likelihood of violence," he said.
Homicides in Newark, a city of 277,000 people, rose from 80 in 2009 to 91 the next year, according to state police data.
When pressed on the success of buying guns, many of them illegally purchased, he said: "If you talk to the people in the community, they'll tell you that 700 less guns in the neighborhood is a positive development."
That number in Camden would be a huge increase over last year's gun purchase, when the city offered $100 in vouchers to Pathmark for each weapon.
For the city of 77,000, which had 49 homicides last year and has seen a record 64 so far this year, getting any guns out of circulation, Chiesa said, "is one more step we can take to help."