Exclusive look at powerful firearms in Newark

May 3, 2010 8:34:21 PM PDT
The AR15 assault riffle, a 12 gauge shotgun known as the street sweeper, and the rapid firing MP5 are all pretty scary and intimidating. Now imagine you are a police officer staring down the barrel of one.

"You'll go through 30 rounds in under 4 seconds," explained Police Director Garry McCarthy.

Eyewitness News got an exclusive look at the worst of the worst.

All illegal weapons, which were all taken off the streets of Newark.

"A gang member's mother brought that to one of the churches in the gun buy back program," described McCarthy while showing Eyewitness News a gun.

McCarthy says the weapons are the reason the murder rate went up at the end of last year, even as crime continued to drop.

80-90% of the murders in Newark are gun related.

He says, it's not that the bad guys are getting more accurate, they just have better guns and more bullets.

"Shame on this country, honestly, there aren't guns manufactured in New Jersey to my knowledge. 70% of our weapons come from out of state," said McCarthy.

It's called the iron pipeline, a direct line from states down south, even from neighboring Pennsylvania.

Director McCarthy spent 25 years on the job in Manhattan.

He brought that experience to Newark.

"The success we are having here in Newark isn't the result of just one thing, it's a whole bunch of initiatives we've put in place," said McCarthy.

A firearms simulator at the Newark training facility puts cadets through a series of real life scenarios.

Should you shoot or should you show restraint?

The cadets play out split second decisions that could mean life or death.

"You won't see anyone perfect," said Lt. Russ Omanna, an instructor at the Newark training facility.

Omanna says he knows how important this training is.

In one scenario, your eye focuses on the guy with the gun, but look, the woman on the couch has a gun too, so does a man around the corner you don't even see until it's too late.

Back in the real world, bullets from some guns go right through police vests.

They are called cop killers because that's what they do.

So even with the proper training it's a job that puts your life on the line.

"Your body and mind are telling you one thing, get out of there, but your skills and training are telling you, I have to go in there and get that individual," said Omanna.

It's a tough and dangerous job, but the director says it's one that seems to be paying off.

"The perception of Newark is changing, Conan O'Brien and being the butt of jokes actually raises the awareness, and gives us the bully pulpit to get out there and say, you know what, this isn't what's happening, this is what's happening!" stressed McCarthy.