City and County police departments will sometimes host gun buy-back programs where residents will voluntarily and anonymously turn in their firearms. In exchange, the police will give each participant something like a certain amount of free gas or a gift certificate to a local grocery store. Anything to serve as an incentive to get people to turn in their weapons.
If you ask the average gun-grabber why local police departments host these buy-back programs, they’ll tell you that it’s to keep guns off the streets. They might qualify their statement, saying that guns need to be kept out of the wrong hands, and this is a good way to contribute to a reduction in gun violence.
For most police departments around the country, the guns that are yielded in these buy-backs are destroyed. This prompts a lot of conservatives to point out that many of these guns are stolen or were used in the commission of a crime. And since criminals can turn in their “murder weapon” anonymously, they can effectively get away with their crime. In this life anyway.
It’s also pointed out that enticing a relatively small number of gun-owning residents to turn in their guns does not have any measurable effect on the crime rate. It’s all a sham to make citizens feel safer. And it makes gun control advocates feel better, because at least they’re “doing something” to curb gun violence in getting these guns off the streets.
Not too long ago, the Chicago Tribune reported that St. Charles, a suburb of Chicago, was planning a gun sell-back:
“Most of St. Charles’ weapons…are guns seized by the courts or turned in to police. They will be sold to a St. Charles gun manufacturer-dealer, Alpha Armament Co. While the dealer primarily works with police departments, it would have the right to sell the guns to anyone with a valid firearm owner’s identification card, [St. Charles Police Chief] Lamkin said, including any weapon that was once connected to a crime.”
The Police Chief there in St. Charles said it’s mostly about money and budgetary concerns. “There’s value in these guns,” he said. “They’re not illegal guns. Quite honestly, it’s a bottom line for us.” The City Council voted to allow this “sell-back,” which will earn the St. Charles Police Department about $6,000 in store credit from those manufacturer-dealers.
Chicago isn’t the only place where police departments are selling guns that are either turned in through buy-backs or seized from criminals. Iowa’s doing a similar thing on an annual basis:
“The DCI (Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation] has transferred or is waiting to transfer 183 guns to law enforcement agencies in Iowa and in other states. Last year, 585 guns were destroyed. These guns, mostly handguns, are shredded by a private company in Des Moines. The remainder of the seized guns — about 600 rifles and shotguns — was transferred to the DNR [Division of Natural Resources] for the auction. ‘We have over 700 items at the auction this year,’ said DNR conservation officer Jeff Swearngin. ‘That’s over 500 guns, maybe 20 bows and various traps.’ The auction brought in $82,700 last year. More than $55,000 went to the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund, which pays for fish stocking, habitat restoration, wildlife surveys and game wardens. Another $27,200 went to the state’s general fund. The DNR is expecting an even larger turnout for this year’s auction because of fears gun-control legislation will make it tougher to buy firearms in the future.”
I actually don’t have any problem with police selling the guns back again to make a little money for their department. I’d rather those guns be in the hands of law-abiding citizens than destroyed or stored somewhere indefinitely by a police department.
My problem with them is the overall inconsistency of their message. On one hand, they host these buy-backs to get as many guns off the streets as possible to “protect the children.” On the other hand, if they’ve got budget concerns, they’ll sell some or most of the guns to dealers or auction them off to citizens in order to raise money. They need to make up their mind.