"They're saying they talk to young people who say, 'I go in for two years, I come out a hero,'" State Senator Malcolm Smith told Pix11's Jay Dow. "You have to take the glory out of it. It's the new bling. Before it was 'give me the bling'. Now, it's 'give me the gun.'"
Out of the total number of shootings, 147 were fatal.
Mourning families say they're fed up with frequent, unwelcome reports of stray bullets striking young, innocent bystanders.
Get illegal guns off streets, they say. Pay for them if you must.
So, that's exactly what state Sen. Smith is doing through a landmark partnership initiative with PIX11 News.
Smith told Dow, "I want to thank PIX for co-sponsoring this gun buy-back program with our office."
Sen. Smith and PIX11 contributor Wally Zeins, through his work with the New York City Police Foundation, led the fundraising effort for the upcoming August 18 Gun Buy Back at New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Queens.
It will mimic "Gun Buy Backs" periodically sponsored by the NYPD.
Anyone who brings in an operational gun will be paid up to $200 in the form of a gift card--no questions asked.
"The bottom line to it is, take one gun off the street, and you save one or many lives", says Zeins.
But this gun buy-back will be different for two reasons:
It's driven by more than $70,000 in public and private funds, and with PIX11's help, it will be advertised to a much broader audience.
"No network, no television program---no one has ever teamed up and said we're gonna help you market it. Normally, we've done it through word of mouth. The police department does fliers, little mailings. This is unprecedented," Smith said.
The location to hold the event was not chosen randomly. New Jerusalem Baptist church sits in the heart of the NYPD's 113th police precinct, which serves south Jamaica queens--one of the city's most violent neighborhoods.
"On a day-to-day basis, you have drugs. You have drugs. You have gang violence--all of that is here", Rev. Calvin Rice told Dow.
Rev. Rice said his church is ground zero for the city's renewed efforts to get guns off the streets.He revealed that a young teenager named Kevin Miller "was gunned down by a stray bullet three or four years ago. And we felt the pain of it directly, here in this congregation."
But hat you won't hear from the pulpit, or on the streets, are politically charged discussions about the Second amendment right to bear arms.
Rev. Rice says in South Jamaica illegal guns are an epidemic, and he dismisses critics who say gun buy backs do not attract weapons used in street crimes or do not lead to an overall reduction in crime.
"A gun is a gun is a gun. Whether sitting around in someone's pocket, or in someone's glove compartment in a car, it has the same potential. No matter where it's at, for a person who's willing to use it", Rev. Rice said.