The Niagara Falls Police Department is beginning its first gun buyback program. YNN's Antoinette DelBel has more on the City's initiative to get guns off the streets.
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — There were 26 shootings and three homicides in the City of Niagara Falls last year. Those numbers prompted the police department to roll out its first gun buyback program aimed at reducing gun violence.
"A lot of people argue that you're going to get non-working guns and things that weren't going to be a problem anyway, but we feel that even if we get one working gun off the street, it's better than nothing," said Lt. Nicholas Ligammari.
The gun buyback program is part of the department's HEAT, or "Help Eliminate Armed Thugs" initiative started in 2010. After funds dried up last year, the department was able to get a $50,000 state grant to continue HEAT.
City leaders and officers are calling it an all-around approach to getting guns - mainly illegal guns - off the streets.
"There is no silver bullet for the gun violence problem," said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. "It's not going to be one thing that somehow resolves this problem that has evolved over a very long period of time."
The grant money will allow for longer hours for police patrols and gun storage safety - all in an effort to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands.
"Today's youth and the gangs - they get guns through maybe burglaries, and a lot of older people may not know they have certain guns sill in their house," said Ligammari.
Detectives said the grant money will also be used to provide a gun safety class that'll be offered at the police station to anyone interested.
"Not a 'how to actually shoot a firearm,' but more of a safety, safe handling," said Narcotics Detective John Faso. "We're going to target children if they'd like to participate."
The gun buyback program will take place on Feb. 23.
In exchange for their guns, owners will receive cash ranging from $50 to $100 for working guns and $10 for non-working guns.