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Auditors praise city for gun buyback Expenditure of funds is well documented

City auditors gave Buffalo's second gun buyback high marks, saying they found no discrepancies as they reviewed data from the Sept. 27 anti-crime initiative.

In an audit that will be reviewed today by the Common Council, Buffalo Comptroller Andrew A. SanFilippo said analysts detected no serious problems with the implementation of the buyback. Auditors wanted to make sure all weapons collected at seven churches throughout the city were accounted for, along with cash cards that were provided to people who turned in weapons.

The final weapons count in the audit is slightly higher than the estimate given hours after the buyback ended. Auditors said 723 guns were
collected. This sum includes 235 nonworking guns, 220 rifles, 263 handguns and five assault weapons.

This was the city's second gun buyback. The first was held in 2007 and resulted in 878 guns being turned in. But some city officials were expecting about half the number of weapons to be collected in the second phase.

"Despite a shorter promotional period and the threat of inclement weather, more firearms were removed from the streets than was originally anticipated," SanFilippo said.

He praised Mayor Byron W. Brown, police officials and representatives from the comptroller's office who helped oversee the program.

City records showed that $33,575 in cash cards were distributed, with people receiving different amounts depending on the weapon that was turned in. Assault weapons commanded the highest price -- $100. Nonworking weapons, antique guns and BB guns were at the bottom of the compensation ladder, receiving only $10. The program was funded through money seized during drug raids and other crimes. Auditors said they were able to account for all cash cards, including cards that weren't used.

The audit included a review to make sure that all weapons collected had tags that indicated officers at each site had inspected and disabled the guns.

"The range officers reinspected all the weapons and found one rifle to contain a round jammed in it," the audit stated.

The weapons are being destroyed as part of Buffalo's "no questions asked" pledge that Brown said is a key component of the buyback.

City officials have not yet indicated whether a third gun buyback will be held.

While some dispute the effectiveness of such programs in reducing crime, Brown and Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson believe buybacks can make a difference. They argue that many weapons used to commit crimes are stolen.

The mayor noted that one resident turned in 13 functioning handguns last month. Brown said that if the man's home had been broken into, there would have been over a dozen guns on the streets.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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