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Albany County DA once again working with Albany church for gun buyback

Albany Gun Buy Back "Gifts For Guns" Program 2022
Dave Lucas
Albany Gun Buy Back "Gifts For Guns" Program 2022

Albany's Gifts For Guns buyback program is back for another holiday round.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares and Victory Christian Church are holding another buyback of handguns and assault weapons Saturday. Broken or otherwise non-working guns and registered, permitted weapons will not be accepted.

Pastor Charlie Muller says this year's buyback is 100% funded by the church to the tune of $4000, with $100 gift cards for every weapon turned in no questions asked.

“Sometimes we'll get a mother turning in a gun she found in her son's drawer, I've gotten that quite a few times,you know, and it's like I said, sometimes a 20-year-old, " said Muller. "I had an 18-year-old throw a 45, loaded, on my on my desk, you know, and just threw it in ran out without a card, you know. So, you know, for the for the community to know, this is what we do. The last time we held a gun buyback, which we hold four or five every year, and this was just in the summer, going into the summer, right after a mass shooting. I had a guy call me up I had to travel, we got a cache of weapons off of him he turned in. So that was that was interesting. Because we're open and they know we're consistent. There hasn't been a year we haven't done four or five gun buybacks.”

DA Soares says the program has been running since 2008.

“It was a program that was born out of the death of Kathina Thomas, as you may recall, a young child who was sitting on her stoop who was struck by an errant bullet, and that program was born out of that, out of tragedy, and it's been successful every year that the Victory Church has done this," Soares said. "You know, now with the proliferation of handguns coming in from some of our border states, with ghost guns that can easily be obtained, people will naturally react to gun buyback programs by questioning their efficacy given those conditions. But I say, and I continue to stand by this as a person in public safety, that, when we are removing one illegal gun from the community, that's one less person who could be hurt by that illegal gun.”

Muller says one Christmas the church took in 48 weapons. He says it’s a greater challenge to get guns off the streets in 2022.

"There's a lot of times somebody has a gun in their house because their husband died, it's not registered, you know, that gun is a liability because someone could break in and get that gun if there's not a safe, and that's a lot of weapons that are on the streets come from thefts and different things," Muller said. "So just get here, no questions asked, if you're a young person, we you know, we're for you. We want to send that message that not only do we want the gun, but we want your life, we want your life to go in the right direction. And there's so many great programs that we can plug you into.”

Victory Christian Church is located at 118 Quail Street, a block down from Central Avenue.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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