Winston Salem had its second gun turn in event this year (2014). They spent over $40,000 in the two events, collecting over 475 firearms, 364 on March 15th, and 111 yesterday, the 12th of April. Both events quickly ran out of money. On the 15th, the City issued IOUs, yesterday they stopped giving out gift cards when the money ran out.
Long lines were reported when the money ran out, about 5 minutes before the official start time of 9 am. Ordinarily, this is an ideal opportunity for private buyers to purchase guns from people who do not want them. The private buyers get the guns off the street and into responsible hands, stretching the "buy back" dollars. In Winston Salem, the police were not allowing private purchasers to buy guns. From "Ruger" at opencarry.org:
It was a bust. We arrived at 8:55. From 3 different entrances into the neighborhood, cars were lined up for the event & officers were approaching the vehicles. The first words out of the officer's mouth were "We're all out of money." This was 5 minutes before the scheduled start time. The officer was insistent that they don't want anyone getting out of their vehicles. I explained our intent & my interpretation of the law in that we would not be doing anything illegal. The cop was polite, but admitted point-blank that they don't want other people taking the guns that are being brought here.I suspect that this is pure intimidation. I doubt that such a "solicitation permit" would hold up in court, but people do not want to be a test case without significant preparation. The code that seems to apply in Winston Salem is a "Peddlers" license, section 34-23. It does not apply to people who offer to buy items, only to people who are selling. From the municipal code of Winston Salem:
I appealed to him, "Look - y'all are out of money & it's obvious that there are lots more people here with guns they don't want. I ain't here to cause trouble. To the best of my knowledge there's nothing illegal about what I intend to do. I just figure maybe there's some blue haired old lady with her husband's old WWII 1911 or service revolver who doesn't know what she's got & doesn't want it anymore. I'm a gun owner. I have no criminal record. I like guns and I like bargains. I'd love to give a good home to an unwanted gun or two."
He called his supervisor over. I went through the same thing with him. He asked if I am a dealer (no). Eventually he agreed that we could stand on the corner and attempt to purchase from the folks who were showing up, "since you have a permit."
Me: "Huh? Permit?"
Supervisor: "You do have a solicitation permit, right?"
Me: "No. Never heard of such a thing."
Supervisor: "In Winston Salem you have to have a solicitation permit in order to stand on public property in attempt to buy/sell."
Me: "Nice." [sarcasm]
That ended it for us. That neighborhood was crawling with cops. I didn't drive there to get arrested for failing to have a solicitation permit. I Googled it - WSPD *does* arrest folks for violating this law. The permit does exist.
I figure since this is the 3rd such event the city has held in the last year, and since this one was such a smashing success (in their view), there's bound to be another one. So next time when my buddy & I show up we will have permits to solicit.
Every itinerant salesman or merchant who shall expose for sale, either on the street or in a house rented temporarily for that purpose, or from railroad cars, any goods, wares or merchandise, bankrupt stock or fire stock, not being a regular merchant in the city, shall apply for in advance and procure a city license from the revenue collector for the privilege of transacting such business.This shows the wisdom of recording such police interactions. Unless there is another ordinance that I am unaware of, the police supervisor clearly violated "Ruger"'s constitutional rights of free association and free speech. Mr. "Ruger" appears to have an actionable case for suppression of constitutional rights under color of law.
While Winston Salem had 111 guns turned in at this event, it appears that the police illegally and unconstitutionally prevented dozens of others from being taken off the street.
©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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