Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Detroit Police Buying Guns to "Make City Safer".

Detroit police to buy guns to make city streets safer

OK, when I first saw the story headline, my first thought was: "That's nice of them. So how are they going to distribute them to all of the law-abiding residents of that third-world city that could use them?"

But then I read the article, and as usual, they plan to try to lure the citizens to turn in any guns that they might already own, in return for a few dollars. Same old story.

But this made me nostalgic. I can't help but remember back to the early 1990's, when a local community where I lived first tired this. A friend and I both had Federal Firearms Licenses back then because this was before Clinton had ATF change the rules for getting and maintaining an FFL to shut out pretty much everyone who doesn't have a storefront. (And this was done with the enthusiastic support of the gun shops through a front group called the "National Alliance of Stocking Gun Dealers", which was created just to lobby government to put "the little guy" out of the gun-selling business.)

This friends and I saw that there was going to be a "gun buy-back" at a local civic building where the city was paying $50 for any gun brought in. After pondering over a beer how the government could buy something back that they did not previously own, we hatched a great scheme to save some of the nice, historic and valuable guns that might wind up down there. The morning of the "buy back", a sunny Saturday morning, we showed up with my friend's pick-up truck, a card table and a couple of chairs and set up in the parking lot outside the building with a couple of signs that read: "Getting rid of guns? We pay more." and "Free Appraisals." We figured that we'd add to our personal collections by buying any nice guns that people brought down to dispose of. Great plan, eh?

We weren't in place five minutes before we had police officers at our table, asking us what we thought that we were doing. We explained that we were here to help buy guns. I mean, what more could two civic-minded guys do, right?

The police officer told us that we could not do this because you had to have a license to buy and sell guns. Well rather than argue that point, we pulled out copies of our FFLs and told him that we had it covered. This caused the lead police officer to go back into the building for a minute while his associate kept an eye on us. He returned to tell us that we could not lawfully conduct business on the city's property. We thought about that for a second then told him that we'd be more than happy to move our table about twenty feet away to the public sidewalk. He replied that if we did that, we'd need a vendor's permit from the city, which we could not even apply for until Monday. Realizing that they weren't going to let us play, we packed up and drove away, then spent the next few hours pulling up to every sidewalk lemonade stand that we could find and asking the kids if they had vendors' permits.

Still, we had some fun so it wasn't a total loss even with all of the crappy lemonade that we'd bought that day. Then we went back to my friend's house and watched the evening news coverage of that buy-back and saw one Colt Woodsman target pistol being turned in and tossed into a bin that already had am M-1 carbine poking out of it. Immediately afterwards, my friend's wife came downstairs to see why we were both screaming.

Nowadays, these gun buys are routine, and while they still get nice old relics and unwanted family heirlooms every now and again, usually they just get junk not worth the money being paid out. Still, if I lived closer, I've got some old junk lying around that I'd be happy to drop off in exchange for some loot. And I'd put the money towards a new gun, or more ammo for the other ones that I still have.


  1. Heh. I can just imagine the look on the cops' faces when they handed you your cash for the crappy non-firing rustbucket wall-hanger, and you smile and say "thanks, this was all I needed to get that new ___ [insert firearm of choice]!!!" That would be priceless!

  2. Some guys did that to buy new guns for a Jr. shooting group. I think they got something on the order of $6k for a bunch of jumk they'd corralled...

  3. Maybe Camden, NJ should buy guns for its citizens, since it's disbanding its police department.

  4. I think they are right! I buy them also to make the streets safer! And here in Texas they are safer.