ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Albany County Legislature and Sheriff’s Office are taking steps to reduce rising gun violence with a new program.

“Throughout COVID and throughout the last 20 years or so in our communities and in Albany County, we’ve seen an explosion in the proliferation of guns, gun violence, not only in our communities but across our nation,” said Andrew Joyce, Chairman of the Albany County Legislature.

Introduced by District 30 Legislator Dustin Reidy and approved by the legislature last November, The Detailed Instruction Supporting Community Violence Education and Reduction, or DISCOVER, the program will focus on firearm education and training for gun owners. People will be able to access pistol training programs with the Sheriff’s Office, an anonymous illegal firearm tip line, and gun buyback events.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said his office has a process in place to investigate those tips, with the goal of confiscating as many guns as needed and they’ve already seen success with other aspects of the program like gun buybacks. The county held its first gun buyback event in January, handing out over $10,000 for over 100 guns, including 60 handguns.

“I think the community, as well, wants these guns off the street,” Apple said. “They want guns that are laying around your house, get rid of them because if somebody breaks in they have access to them.”

Other community leaders hope the initiative will help residents feel safer and put a stop to increasing gun violence as the weather gets warmer. “We can see where bullet holes have gone through people’s kitchen windows, where elderly people have had the move out of the way quickly and they complain about not feeling safe in their homes,” Wanda Willingham, Albany County Legislator, District three, said. “As it gets warmer, people will want to come out and we know that is the time when gun violence will increase.”