South Brunswick Police are launching a program to educate residents on the procedure for safely turning in an unwanted firearm.
While the department has previously accepted unwanted guns from the community, the issue was brought to the Township Council last week in response to concerns about safety in the community.
“Project Safe Surrender” was announced by the department this week in hopes of raising awareness for the correct procedure to turn in firearms.
"We have always accepted firearms that residents wanted to surrender," said Chief Raymond Hayducka. "This project is to let all the public know how they can safely turn in unwanted firearms."
At last week's Township Council meeting, former Councilman John O'Sullivan asked the council to consider a gun amnesty program that he said could help safeguard South Brunswick from the potential of gun violence.
"As we know maintaining the safety, heath and welfare of the residents are the important functions of government and an amnesty program can be a way of moving toward those goals," O'Sullivan said last week. "We are all aware, now more than ever, about people having legal licensed and illegal unlicensed weapons and some being used to commit crimes. The idea of a gun amnesty program is to help get unlicensed and illegal weapons off our streets."
Last year there were a handful of firearms surrendered to South Brunswick Police, with the most common occurrence by relatives who inherited a firearm but no longer wanted it.
"I'm glad this is happening because it's better for the community," O'Sullivan said on Tuesday.
Residents and community members can surrender weapons by calling the South Brunswick Police Department’s Property/Evidence Officer at 732-329-4000 ext. 7447, who will then coordinate when and how the weapons can be turned in, police said.
Project Safe Surrender follows guidelines established by New Jersey law for the voluntary surrender of firearms:
No person shall be convicted of an offense under this chapter for possessing any firearms, weapons, destructive devices, silencers or explosives, if after giving written notice of his intention to do so, including the proposed date and time of surrender, he voluntarily surrendered the weapon, device, instrument or substance in question to the superintendent or to the chief of police in the municipality in which he resides, provided that the required notice is received by the superintendent or chief of police before any charges have been made or complaints filed against such person for the unlawful possession of the weapon, device, instrument or substance in question and before any investigation has been commenced by any law enforcement agency concerning the unlawful possession. Nothing in this section shall be construed as granting immunity from prosecution for any crime or offense except that of the unlawful possession of such weapons, devices, instruments or substances surrendered as herein provided.
“We want all residents to know that surrendering firearms with South Brunswick Police is always possible," Chief Hayducka said.