On January 11, Fox Nation and right-wing blog Weasel Zippers highlighted a video of Newark, NJ, Mayor Cory Booker outlining the details of a Newark gun control program to fearmonger that people would be “turn[ed] in” for “owning a gun.”
The program, called Gun Stoppers, offers a reward of up to $1,000 for residents who provide information leading to an arrest for a gun-related crime. After Weasel Zippers posted the video of Booker under the headline, “Newark, NJ Mayor: Turn In Your Neighbor For Owning A Gun...Get $1,000 Reward,” Fox Nation quickly followed suit:
But the headline used by both blogs is incredibly misleading. The program does not reward Newark residents for “turn[ing] in your neighbor for owning a gun.” It rewards residents for providing information leading to arrests related to cases of illegal gun possession or gun-related crimes -- a fact made abundantly clear in the video, in which Booker says, “If you know someone carrying an illegal gun, give us the information and get the money.”
While Booker is speaking, an on-screen graphic promotes "$1,000 cash for information leading to the arrest of anyone with an illegal gun." The website for the program, which is run by the nonprofit Newark Police Foundation, also notes that the program is for people “with important information about a gun-related crime in Newark.”
Not only are Fox Nation and Weasel Zippers wrong about what the program does, they're late to the party. The program began almost five years ago. The Newark Star-Ledger reported on March 6, 2007, (accessed via Nexis):
Newark police yesterday announced the launch of two new tip lines that will offer rewards of up to $2,000 for information that helps cops catch criminals and seize illegal guns.
Funded by the newly created Newark Police Foundation, the Crime Stoppers and Gun Stoppers hot lines go live this morning, with city detectives available to take calls from tipsters, officials said.
The key to the program is its promise to keep all tipsters anonymous. Police hope that will help residents overcome their fear of retaliation by criminals.