Pastor William Hodgetts, of Trinity Lutheran Church in Amsterdam, says he has already been contacted by a number of people interested in the gun buy back program being held at his church this Saturday. By Hodgett’s recollection, it has been at least 15 years since the last time a similar program was held in the city.
Hodgetts credits Amsterdam Police Department officer Ariel Santiago for initiating the idea and reaching out to Pastor Charlie Muller from Victory Christian Church in Albany, who has had experience with gun buy back programs. According to Hodgetts, they were able to secure funding for the program from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office as well as two business owners: Garcia Management, which operates Dunkin’ Donuts shops in the Amsterdam area, and Fresh Basil, a restaurant next to Riverfront Center.
“So, they got the idea and the funding, then officer Santiago reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to do it,” said Hodgetts.
Hodgetts said that anyone can bring in any type of working handgun with “no questions asked.”
“If it is a working handgun, that is, after we check it out to make sure it’s working, they’ll receive a $100 gift certificate which they can use at Crossgates Mall,” said Hodgetts.
“It’s not just that there are illegal guns out there or that they in the hands of people who want to commit crimes,” explained Hodgetts. “But there are illegal guns in the hands of people who don’t want to commit crimes. For instance a husband has a gun that’s legal and he passes away and the wife comes upon it sometime later and she might be hesitant to bring it in because the permit is not in her name. So now they could bring in and there would be no repercussions. And what if someone broke into a house and stole an illegal gun? That’s another gun on the street.”
Hodgetts said the exchanges will be handled quickly.
“They are fast transactions. People want to bring their guns…get their gift certificate and hopefully have a nicer holiday, and that’s one more gun off the street. My church is 100% behind it because we want to do good things for the community.”
The program will run from 9 AM to 3 PM this Saturday at the church which is located at 42 Guy Park Ave., Amsterdam, NY.