Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Guns Turned in At Milwaukee Event (buy back)

Long Guns Turned in at Milwaukee "Buy Back" on 17 May, 2014

 I arrived at the turn in event a little after 9 am on the 17th.   The Milwaukee Police Department had already done the set up for the event, and a crowd was listening to speeches.   I counted about 10 officers at the start, with perhaps as many as 15 total.  Several were directing traffic and controlling the area.  It appeared that data were being entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) to check to see if any  of the firearms were listed as stolen property.   I have not heard any mention that any of the firearms were listed as stolen.  The event was not really a "buy back" because the people buying the guns never owned them before.

There appears to be at least one WWII or earlier Mauser at the top left of the picture, and some decent hunting rifles and shotguns in the mix.  One semi-auto AK clone was turned in, and it was rumored that a Thompson came in, as well as several decent .357 magnums.  I never saw them.

Police cleared the controlled area of those who were not involved in the organization of the event before it started.   This is the first turn in event that I have seen start on time.   They refused to take in firearms early.    It was well organized, and the flow of vehicles and people on foot proceeded fairly smoothly.   There was a crush at first, with traffic backed up around the block and even down side streets early on. 

I talked to one couple before the event started.   They were turning in a rifle and shotgun that had been inherited.   Ralph T said that this was "the  most responsible way to dispose of a firearm."    This is a common theme at gun turn in events.   Many of the firearms that were turned in had been inherited, and the people who owned them had no interest in them.

The event had a higher percentage of handguns than is common, but the organizers were paying $100 for handguns and only $50 for rifles and shotguns.  Any working shotgun or rifle is worth at least $100 on the market, so it is not surprising that more handguns were turned in at this event.  The numbers reported were:

234 handguns

115 long guns

4  "assault weapons"

$200 was offered for "assault weapons".  The only information that I was told about what would be counted as an "assault weapon" was that the definition would be that in Wisconsin law.  There does not appear to be any definition of "assault weapon" in Wisconsin law.

That comes to 353 firearms total, or $29,950.  $53,000 had been donated for the event, so about $23,000 was left over.  Mayor Barrett indicated that it might be used for another event later in the year.

I met some of the organizers of the event, and they were kind enough to pose for a photograph.

From left to right: Reverend Louis E. Sibley III, Dr. F.L. Crouther, Reverend John McVicker, Mr. Marty Forman, and Reverend Butler
I particularly want to thank Reverend Butler for his help in obtaining some pictures at the event.   All of the clergy were friendly and helpful, but that has generally been my experience with clergy.

Marty Forman runs a recycling center.  His family has been in Milwaukee for at least three generations.  He said that "people were encouraged to take more valuable guns to Cabela's or Gander Mountain", and that they only wanted unwanted, broken, and inexpensive guns. 

I did not see any ads to that effect, or any mention in the media articles that I read, but it seems like a reasonable message to put out.    Perhaps they could make a way for private buyers to look at the guns before they reach the police  Then the buyers could make offers for the more valuable firearms.

There were a significant number of private purchasers at the event.   Here is a typical sign.

The police were generally friendly to the private purchasers.   I only heard complaints about one police officer, and he was not there for the entire event.  Mayor Barrett even said, after calling for background checks on all private sales, that it was not currently the law, and speaking of private purchasers:
"Its America, I support their right to be here."
Of course, if you must obtain government permission for a private sale, it is no longer private.   Requiring background checks, of the form proposed by those who push for more restrictive gun laws, would not allow private people to buy at events like this.   A background check amendment that would insure the privacy of private sellers and buyers was defeated in the Senate by those pushing for more restrictive gun laws.

Private purchasers are common at these events except in the few states where private purchases are not currently allowed by state law.

The private purchasers that I talked to said that they were not opposed to the event, but that by purchasing the more valuable firearms, they helped to stretch the turn in dollars for old and inexpensive guns.  I saw private purchasers recommend that people  with inexpensive and non-functional guns continue to the turn in, because they would obtain more than the guns were worth at the event.

While academics have found that these events do not have a measurable impact on crime, they provide a way for people to get rid of unwanted firearms.  Cooperation between the organizers of the event and the private purchasers could be a win-win for all concerned.

There will be another article about the private purchasers and the firearms that they obtained.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

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