ALBANY, N.Y. — Albany's annual gun buyback program for the holidays has a new partner and a new community home.
The "Gifts for Guns" program, sponsored by District Attorney David Soares' "ENOUGH" campaign, will receive a $10,000 boost from the St. Peter's Health Network, officials announced Tuesday. Combined with its usual annual funding, "Gifts for Guns" now has $17,000 on hand to purchase Crossgates Mall gift cards, in order to trade them for illegal firearms.
Because St. Peter's has a strong presence in Troy, this year the buyback will expand to the Collar City. Residents bringing illegal guns for the exchange will be able to turn them in at Victorious Life Church on 5th Avenue.
"We're trying to get people jobs, get them back in the community, and let them know: 'Don't go back to that old lifestyle,' " said Pastor Charlie Muller, the head of Victory Church in Albany who co-chairs "Gifts for Guns."
"Success for us is more than just taking a gun. Success is really changing the way people are thinking."
Although buyback programs are controversial — critics point out that many collected guns are priceless antiques, or worthless broken firearms — Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said Tuesday that the program is all about perception.
"We don't have anything really tangible to say that this is the greatest successful program," Apple conceded."But what we are doing is eliminating the opportunity to access that weapon and hurt somebody, rob somebody, or kill somebody."
The "Gifts for Guns" program begins on December 1. Those interested can contact Pastor Charlie at 518-434-6100.