Top law enforcement officials have called New Jersey’s recent trio of gun buybacks a huge success, but the National Rifle Association’s news outlet, America’s 1st Freedom, has taken a far more critical stance on the events.
In an opinion piece published Monday, America’s 1st Freedom editor Mark Chestnut called the gun buybacks foolish, arguing they only accomplished taking guns away from law-abiding citizens in need of cash and will do next to nothing to slow violent crime in the Garden State.
While New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino touted the netting of a total 4,775 firearms as the most successful gun buyback in the state’s history, Chestnut says most of the guns turned in were never used to commit crimes in the first place, as some were collectibles and many most likely only used for hunting or sports shooting.
Porrino and acting U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick made a point to highlight the 129 “assault weapons” that were handed over, saying those alone made the events worth the cost. The “assault weapons” received the highest payout of $200, while rifles and shotguns went for $100 and handguns for $120.
“If we collected just the assault weapons, this undertaking would have been worthwhile,” Porrino said at a press conference. “Many of those weapons are designed to pierce body armor, and getting just one off the street has tremendous value, not to mention getting 129 off the street in two days.”
“Those are weapons of war,” Fitzpatrick added. “Those are weapons that were designed to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Those weapons are no longer on the streets of New Jersey.”
Chestnut is particularly critical of this point. He argues that likely only a few of those guns described as assault weapons were fully-automatic firearms, as those are tightly regulated and generally go for thousands of dollars. He also speculates that most of the assault weapons were, therefore, most likely semi-automatic AR-15 rifles, which could be used for sports shooting, hunting and self-defense — not just as “weapons of war.”
Chestnut points to studies conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research that have shown gun buybacks do little to slow gun violence and condemns Porrino and Fitzpatrick for characterizing the buybacks as life-saving events. In reality, Chestnut argues, the fact that buyback promoters seemingly celebrated the destruction and melting down of all the guns reveals their belief that “all guns are bad.”
For his part, Porrino has said the gun buyback was intended to be just one of a two-pronged approach to try and slow gun violence in the state, as prosecutors will now have more tools at their disposal when dealing with offenders who use guns to commit violent crimes. Most notably, due to New Jersey’s new bail reform rules, prosecutors can now seek “no bail” for said offenders.