Hot97 morning show host Cipha Sounds sprayed a fusillade of doubt on the city’s gun buyback program yesterday, telling listeners during a news brief that at last weekend’s Bronx buyback event, which collected 1,186 weapons, the NYPD photographed and compiled a list of participants.
Maybe he expected to spur some call-ins with that charge, but he probably wasn’t expecting one from the Bronx Borough President.
This morning, Bronx Beep Ruben Diaz, Jr., who promoted the program, refuted the host’s paranoiac commentary in a call to the station’s Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg show.
“Cipha, look, you’re very influential and important,” Diaz said, “but the reality is that each one of these 1,186 guns that we took off the street represents potentially another Sadie Mitchell or Aisha Santiago or even Vada Vasquez, the young 15-year-old girl who was shot in the head.”
In a borough where no game-show-watching granny or working mom is safe from stray bullets, last Saturday’s program aimed to prevent more tragedies. The NYPD and borough president enlisted four Bronx churches to open their doors, giving weapon wielding residents a venue more comfortable than a precinct to make transactions. Participants received a $200 debit card, backed by Chase Bank, for each operational firearm turned in.
Inside the churches, police arranged guns on tables. The line-up included an Uzi and a “Streetsweeper.” While the buyback program removed over 1,000 firearms from the Boogie Down borough, it has rid the city of nearly 6,000 guns since its inception in 2008.
“No one could ever say that they went to jail or got arrested because they participated in this program,” Diaz said.
Despite the borough president’s insistence of anonymity and his references to heartbreaking gun violence incidents in the borough, he failed to inspire the host (who incidentally hails from Bronx) to shed his skeptical outlook. “I hate all those stories random violence, of innocent people getting hit,” he said, “but I’m just thinking it’s a setup to catch criminals later on and put them on a list.”
When Cipha gored the program yesterday, his more sympathetic sidekick K Foxx offered sage advice to criminal participants: Scrub the handguns clean of handprints before turning them over.
But Cipha wasn’t hearing that.
“You’re getting videotaped,” he insisted. “You have to write your name down. The whole program is from the NYPD. Now they know you — that guy right there — you have guns.”
He insisted a trade-in placed people in the NYPD’s crosshairs.
“Some of these cops, they’re not logical thinkers,” he insisted. “They’re not humanitarians, where they see you and it’s like, ‘Oh, this guy’s a gentleman. He turned in his gun last week.’ They’re like, ‘Yo. Keep an eye on him. I know he got heat on him.”
The morning host seemed incredulous that a person would hand over a weapon for a piddling $200 bucks, when the price point for used guns stood higher in Brooklyn.
His rant lit up the Hot97 switchboard. One caller, who claimed to have dropped off two guns at the buyback, vouched for the program’s no-questions-asked policy. One of the weapons, the caller said, had a broken clip holder. “The other one, it was time to get rid of, you know what I mean?” he said. He said he owned other guns anyway.
“Why didn’t you turn them all in?” Cipha asked.
“Nah. Nah. Nah,” the caller said.