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Allentown residents turn over guns to police

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: May 03 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: May 06 2013 05:55:17 AM CDT

Gun Buyback

ALLENTOWN -

Allentown Police were offering money for guns Saturday, but the turnout for the police gun buyback wasn't as high as they hoped for.

One by one, people and their guns filed into Iglesia Christiana Emmanuel Church on North Eighth Street.

"It's a .22," said Jim Staples of Allentown.

Staples brought this small handgun in for a friend.

"He didn't want it.  It's a piece of junk gun," said Staples.

"Junk" or not, police say even aging and broken guns can end up stolen -- and in the hands of criminals.

"Many of the guns that we face and we deal with on the street are not your top-notch, high-quality gun that you would go to a gun shop and buy," said Capt. Glen Dorney with Allentown Police.

The idea behind the buyback is to destroy those weapons.  Donors got a $100 K-Mart gift card for working weapons, $15 for non-working ones, and $10 for a BB or Airsoft gun.

"Basically, I have no use for them," said Todd Decker of Bethlehem, "so I had them sitting in the closet; I don't need them anymore."

This is the second buyback event in the past year, although this year's haul of 41 guns was considerably less than last year, which brought in roughly 115 weapons.

"Last time we advertised it for over a month," said Dorney.  "This time was about a week, so in the future, that's one of the things that we want to take into account."

Police say this is a good start, but the mayor says, the bigger problem is getting the flood of illegal guns off the streets."

"Probably about 80, 90 percent of those guns that wind up in the hands of criminals are obtained illegally," said Mayor Ed Pawlowski, D - Allentown. 

A gun bought illegally in Allentown was recently used in an attack on a New York City subway cop.

"Listen, we've got to try every approach," said Pawlowski.

It's an approach that, on this day, got several dozen guns off the streets.