BY BILL WOLCOTT
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The Lockport Police Department is looking to take guns off the street, and they’re turning to a method that’s worked well in recent years in other cities across the country.
On Feb. 23, the police will conduct its first gun buyback program in the lobby of the municipal building at 1 Locks Plaza, Chief Larry Eggert announced.
While some may think that the program is a response to recent shootings in Newtown, Conn. and suburban Rochester — along with Lockport’s Impact Zone program, Eggert said the buyback is being done for one reason.
”The biggest reason is to get guns off the street. Any time you can take guns off the street it’s a good thing,” Eggert said. Residents can turn in firearms with no questions asked and get paid with gift cards.
Those who turn in non-working guns will receive $10. For working long guns, the reward is $50. Handguns garner $75 and assault rife returns pay $100. The police will also supply free gun locks for legal gun owners.
The police will also accept old ammunition, and they remind residents that there is a drop box for unwanted prescription drugs located at the police department’s public entrance.
The money to purchase the weapons comes from the Drug Enforcement Administration from money seized in federal drug arrests. The Niagara Falls Police are holding their first buyback on the same day, at the Niagara Falls fir station located at 11th Street and Ontario Avenue.
Do Lockport police expect handguns or assault weapons?
“We have no idea. We could get nothing or we could get inundated,” Eggert said. “We’ve never done this before and neither has the Falls so w’ere going to see what we get. We may get people with bags of guns, then again we might get two people.”
Eggert quipped, “The chances of someone from the Crips or Bloods coming in with an AK-47, probably not, but it will take guns off the street.”
Captain Mike Niethe is coordinating the Lockport buyback. based on the experience of other police departments, Eggert and Niethe expect to receive guns from residents who have firearms that were left by relatives who have passed away.
”You don’t know what to do with it and you don’t have a permit,” Eggert said. “It’s more important now with the new gun laws passed in the state. It’s a chance to unburden themselves legally of guns. They don’t have to worry about running afoul of the law. There are no questions asked. Get a gift card and take it off the street. The other option is to throw it in the garbage or give it to someone on the street.”