It has become trendy in the liberal/progressive world of anti-Second Amendment advocates to entice gun owners to voluntarily turn in their weapons via dubious “buyback” programs that ostensibly work to reduce the number of firearms on city streets.
Such programs are operated by police departments who, presumably, either keep the weapons that are purchased or destroy them so they don’t wind up in the wrong hands. Little did most Americans know that some departments are actually selling those buy-back guns to gun dealers so they can be resold to the general public. Huh?
According to UPI, the St. Charles Police Department, located in the suburbs of Chicago, has sold some of the guns it obtained in a buyback program to two licensed gun dealers in the area. The department’s chief of police, James Lamkin, justified the sales as a budget-friendly move.
“There’s value in these guns,” Lamkin said, telling the Chicago Tribune that about 20 guns have been sold so far. “They’re not illegal guns. Quite honestly, it’s a bottom line for us.”
What happens when guns sold by police wind up in the wrong hands?
Some of the guns sold were seized from criminals, the Tribune said, adding that the majority of area departments – including the Illinois State Police and the Chicago Police Department – destroy guns purchased through buyback programs.
“There are individuals who will say, why not simply destroy them?” St. Charles Mayor Raymond Rogina said. “But when that happens, there will be someone saying that’s taxpayer dollars [at stake] and you’re throwing it away.”
There is something basically wrong with having police in the firearms business, but apparently this ethical dilemma rings hollow in St. Charles.
Then again, this department won’t be the last one to become a gun broker. Arizona has just enacted legislation requiring local police departments to sell firearms that are either surrendered or that go unclaimed.
Other police officials won’t justify turning their department into a gun clearinghouse, in defiance of the true purpose of gun buyback programs, by using semantics and meaningless arguments. They say even the symbolism of taking one gun out of circulation makes buy-and-destroy a better policy.
“It’s another gun off the street to us,” Cmdr. Glenn Theriault of the Elgin (Illinois) police, told the Tribune. His is among the departments which destroy firearms seized as evidence and which are no longer required by law to be stored.
That’s because even if a police department sells buyback guns or firearms obtained through other methods to a reputable dealer, “anything can happen,” reasoned Theriault. “It can end up in a bad guy’s hands, even if it’s first in the good guy’s hands.”
Exactly. Guns are stolen all the time. But in the era of tighter budgets, some departments seem ready to waive the responsibility clause they have to the general public. Per the Tribune:
The choice for a public agency to sell or destroy seized weapons underscores the push in many suburbs to find new ways to generate revenue without raising taxes. The issue also places St. Charles in an unusual position among law enforcement agencies at a time when the gun control debate has been re-energized by the Sandy Hook school shooting and, in Illinois, by the current effort to enact a concealed carry law before a court-imposed June deadline.
What exactly was the original purpose of gun buyback programs again?
The department is unloading more than buyback guns. The paper reported that four firearms that had once been issued to city police officers were part of a batch sold to Streicher’s, a Minnesota-based dealer who regularly sells equipment to St. Charles. According to Lamkin, those guns will most likely be used as parts for firearms owned by other police agencies.
The City Council is expected to agree to the upcoming sale of the guns, according to the paper. When the sale is final, the department says it expects to receive about $6,400 in credit for future equipment purchases.
“If we took all of these guns and melted them into a pile of metal … except for scrap metal, we would have gotten nothing,” said Lamkin.
“I don’t have any problem with St. Charles police putting guns into the hands of a legitimate vendor,” Rogina said. “To me, the problem with guns is people breaking the law.”
Well, right. No reasonable person would disagree. But again, Mr. Rogina, what was point of gun buyback programs in the first place?
Sources for this article include: