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New buyback program aims to get guns off street

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: New buyback program aims to get guns off street
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As our nation's leaders grapple over how to prevent another tragic shooting, some local leaders are taking the first steps. Tamara Lindstrom tells us about a new program in Tompkins County aimed at taking guns off the street.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- While the staggering number of lives lost in shootings in recent days has shocked the country, the City of Ithaca has faced its own trials with illegal gun use.

"Two months ago, one of our own police officers, Tony Augustine, was shot and injured in the line of duty while protecting and serving the people of this city," said Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick.

The shootings prompted both city and county leaders to take action. Together with law enforcement, they've planned a buyback program. They're offering up to $200 and a safe way for people to get rid of unwanted guns.

"You own a gun illegally, maybe you inherited it, somebody gave it to you, it's not registered to you. We won't ask any questions," Myrick said. "You bring it in, leave it in your trunk. We'll take it out. We'll give you cash. No questions asked."

"We're not talking about taking away rifles for hunting. We're not talking about people's second amendment right. We're talking about public safety here," said Martha Robertson, Tompkins County Legislature Chair.

Organizers are hoping to collect about 40 to 50 firearms next week. But they say even if they collect one gun, or stop one crime, it will be well worth the effort.

"If we get just a single gun off the street, then we have succeeded," said John Barber, Acting Ithaca Police Chief. "That is one less gun that could potentially fall into the hands of someone with criminal intent."

"You've got young people in homes or people who don't know anything about weaponry and it falls into their hands, what are we looking at? Tragedy," said Sheriff Ken Lansing.

The organizers say it's just a small step toward preventing violence. And while it won't solve the problem completely, they have to start somewhere.

The program is being paid for by donations and the police department's seized assets.

Guns can be dropped off at the Green Street Fire Department or the Airport Fire and Rescue Building, Saturday, January 5th from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. An I.D. is required. The collected guns will be documented and destroyed.

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