With the Newtown and Webster shootings barely in the nation's rearview mirror, Ithaca Police hosted a gun buy back program to try taking some guns off the streets. The Police Department wanted to make it clear that this event was not in response to these shootings, as the program was planned before either of the horrid events took place.
Officer Jamie Williamson told CNY Central's Alex Resila, "W e have an objective or a goal to make our streets safer , to help keep Ithaca a wonderful and beautiful place to live , to grow , to raise children , to work . T his gun buy back program speaks volumes to tha t."
Dozens of people came down to the Fire Department to voluntarily trade in their gun for cash. Forty dollars could be had for a hand gun and fifty dollars was the price tag for a larger firearm. While they did not receive any today, the Police were offering two-hundred dollars for assault firearms. With over sixty guns collected in all -- the police made sure everything was turned in safely.
Sergeant John Norman said, "We make sure that it's in functioning condition. we pull the bolt back or remove the cylinder from the weapon and ensure that it's empty."
This is as they have the gun pointed down into a large metal drum. After all of these guns are purchased they are scrapped at a nearby facility.
"We record inventory of all the weapons and their numbers and then they're all destroyed -- the process for that is that they're actually chopped up with a metal cutting tool and then they're melted down into scrap metal." says Sergeant Jake Young.
The Department also wanted people to know that you could not have been prosecuted for bringing in any illegal guns, or one that you had without a permit.
Williamson said, "We're not here to arrest people, we're here to take guns off of our streets if they're illegal or if they're unsecured."
This buyback program did not go on without a fight, as local gun-rights activists gathered outside of the station. Their two issues were firstly, guns are not the issue and secondly, that the funding for this program is not alright with them.
Protest organizer Logan Bell said in regards to guns not being at the heart of the problem, "We want to use the first amendment to defend the second so we don't have to do it the other way around."
The funding to buy these gun back comes from money which has been legally seized from criminal investigations and drug busts.
Local protester Tom Reynolds said, "This money has come in and could be used to relieve tax payer funded projects."