Verona police officials have praised plans by neighboring Montclair to team up with Essex County and get guns off the street.
Montclair and Essex County will be holding a gun buy-back in February where anyone can exchange their guns for cash. The gun buy-back was announced last month soon after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and seven adults dead in Newtown, Conn.
“The key to the gun buy-back is that they accept weapons unasked,” said Verona Police Capt. Mitchell Stern. “It's anonymous, so no one knows why the gun was turned in.”
“I think anything that would take any illegal weapons off the street is a good idea,” he said.
In the last five years, 447 Verona residents have applied for a pistol permit or firearms identification cards, police said.
However, this does not mean 447 guns were purchased or each of those applications was approved. In some cases, someone may have applied for multiple permits, he explained.
The number of registered firearms in the township of Verona is not available, Stern said.
Occasionally, Verona residents voluntarily bring a firearm to Verona police for proper disposal, he said.
Oftentimes residents clean out a relative's house and find an old firearm, so they bring it to police, Stern said. This gun buy-back, he said, will benefit both parties by getting rid of the gun and giving some cash back to the owner.
The gun buy-back is something residents should consider, he said.
For example, Stern said, if a house is broken into, a burglar could get their hands on that firearm.
As part of the buy-back, Stern said, police will also dispose of any spare ammunition.
“If someone needs to get rid of ammunition, we will do it for them, Stern said. “Never put a bullet in the garbage.”
Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson initially presented the gun buy-back plan only for Montclair residents after an anonymous resident committed $10,000 to buy back weapons.
However, the county has since reached out to the township to hold a joint countywide gun buy-back.
“The county thought it was a great idea,” said Montclair Business Manager Marc Dashield. “And they decided that they wanted to get involved in the whole process.”
The program will now include East Orange, Newark, Orange and other nearby cities.
“Anything that gets the guns off the street is a good thing,” said Jackson at the Montclair Council conference meeting Tuesday.
The county’s inclusion will also bring added funds to buy back even more weapons.
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and state Attorney General will contribute about $50,000, said Dashield. However, Dashield said he is now not sure whether the anonymous Montclair donors will still make their donation for the gun-buy back.
Although no date has been set for the weapons buy-back, officials believe it will likely occur in mid-February. The location has yet to be announced, but Dashield said it would likely be held in a Montclair house of worship.
If Verona residents have questions about disposing of a firearm, Stern urged them to contact the Verona Police Department at (973)-239-5000.