Schenectady County

Schenectady unveils gun amnesty program

Local law enforcement officials and clergy announced a new gun amnesty program this morning in an ef
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Local law enforcement officials and clergy announced a new gun amnesty program this morning in an effort to get guns safely off the streets.

Residents will be able to turn in illegal weapons for two months, ending May 31, and won’t face charges for possessing the weapons.

Police and district attorney’s officials announced the program with local clergy, saying the idea came from the religious leaders. Officials hope family members who may not trust police will instead contact their pastor to rid their homes and streets of the weapons.

Today’s announcement was made at the Duryee Memorial AME Zion Church, 307 Hulett St., whose pastor, the Rev. James D. McCathan, helped spark the program.

Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney related the story of a city woman who knew a 15-year-old in her car had a gun, but didn’t think he’d use it. That boy would soon use that weapon to kill a man in a botched robbery.

“This program is aimed directly at that woman,” Carney said. “We want to tell her, reach out to your clergyman, deal with somebody who you turn to for your spiritual life. They will arrange to get those guns out of your house, and nobody will be hurt.”

The amnesty program officially begins Tuesday. Officials are looking for illegal weapons, including pistols, revolvers and sawed-off shotguns or rifles. Amnesty will be granted for possessing the weapons, however, no immunity will be given for other crimes that may have been committed with the weapon.

In order to qualify, people must produce valid identification and be prepared to assist police in documenting the facts about the weapon. Officials, however, said they would work with an individual with the goal of getting the weapon out of circulation.

Weapons can be surrendered by contacting the Schenectady Police Office of Field Intelligence at 788-6566, which is a dedicated line for the duration of the program. The dispatch center can also be contacted at 382-5263 or people can contact a clergy member.

Officials want contact to be made first; weapons should not be brought without first making arrangements.

The program follows one about 10 years ago that resulted in 100 guns surrendered. That program included the promise of a gift certificate.

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