By Rick Ector
A couple of days ago, the Chicago Tribune reported that the St. Charles, Illinois Police Department (SCPD) would be selling some of the firearms that it recently bought from the general public to make a profit. The surprising decision of the SCPD is a radical departure from the way other police departments throughout the country that buy guns from the general public. In fact, their proposed action actually suggests that they and perhaps other law enforcement agencies have duplicitous thoughts on gun control . . .
Most gun control advocates engage in activities to limit citzens’ access of firearms, despite the fact that the right to keep and bear arms is a constitutionally recognized right. They rationalize their actions by demonizing the guns and by spreading anti-firearm ownership dogma that accuses guns of causing violent crime. One of their favorite tactics is to offer to buy guns from the general public at a ridiculously low price while simultaneously suggesting that the sale will make the surrounding communities safer. The idealistic, perhaps naive principle of lowering violent crime is far greater than the act of offering the sellers a fair market value for their rifles and handguns.
The basic premise of these “buy guns from the public” events is flawed. At no time in history have these media spectacles ever been proven to have a desirable effect on violent crime rates. In fact, a 2010 study published by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance stated the following:
The basic theory behind the gun buy-back is that fewer guns on the street will result in a reduction in gun violence. Despite the popularity of these programs, research has consistently failed to show a link between these programs and a reduction in gun violence. Researchers have found that this is in large part due to the fact that these programs are based on a flawed theory.
Some public officials and law enforcement agencies, however, have no qualms about intentionally misleading an uninformed public. As an example, a few weeks ago Wayne County (Michigan) Executive Robert Ficano conducted one of these “Law Enforcement Firearm Transfer” (LEFT) events at a Detroit church. LEFT is, at least, a more accurate term because the participating agency never owned the guns that it’s offering to buy.
In the media run-up to their event, officially dubbed “Guns for Groceries,” Ficano was quoted in an MLive article: “Gun turn-in programs have proven to be successful across the country, and we are pleased to be part of this unique public-private partnership in Detroit.” Apparently, Ficano measures success by the number of guns bought by the government instead of a measurable drop in violent crime caused by the number of firearms given up by the public. If he could prove that LEFTs make cities safer, he would do it. He won’t because he can’t.
In general, most government sponsored LEFTs follow the same game plan, regardless of where they are held – from Detroit all the way to St. Charles. Usually, a desperate politician who is in need of good of good press coverage is advised to hatch a plan to deceive the public. Their bright idea – hold a LEFT – is to buy guns from the public on a “no questions asked” basis for a mere pittance instead of paying what the guns are truly worth.
The LEFT promoters tell the event participants that their unwanted firearms won’t ever be used in a crime if they agree to sell them. The government makes that assurance by promising to destroy the guns, regardless of whether they were previously stolen from their rightful owners or were recently used in a violent crime. At the Detroit LEFT event, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon told CBS Detroit,
What we do know is that the guns we get will never be used against anyone in a crime. That much we do know.
Sponsors of LEFTs also usually allege that they offer to buy guns from the public because they believe that our communities will be safer because a privately owned firearm could be stolen, used in crimes, and should therefore be taken out of circulation. To date, no law enforcement officer has ever offered to sell his own firearm. Even though a quick Google search will confirm that some police officers do, in fact, lose their firearms or have them stolen. If they truly believe that getting rid of the guns will lower crime, why won’t they demonstrate leadership by melting down their own guns?
Whereas, it’s true that a melted-down firearm won’t ever be used in a crime, it’s also true that it won’t be used by a woman to defend herself from a rapist. The LEFT sponsors ignore the irrefutable fact that guns can’t commit a crime without being used by a person with bad intentions. Firearms are mere tools which can be used for good or evil. Destroying them will not reduce the numbers of people roaming free in our society who have no qualms about raping, robbing, and killing innocents.
It shouldn’t be hard to understand why the SCPD has justifiably drawn a lot of criticism when it added an uncharacteristic new wrinkle to their LEFT event. Instead of doing what most people expected them to do – destroy the guns – they decided to sell a few of them for a profit.
Apparently, the SCPD surprisingly took in twenty guns that were in great condition and then determined that it would be in their best interests – at the expense of the aforementioned public benefit of lowering violent crime – to sell them to two licensed gun dealers for $6,400 in credits to be used for future firearm purchases for the department. SCPD Police Chief James Lamkin was quoted as saying “There’s value in these guns. They’re not illegal guns. Quite honestly, it’s a bottom line for us.”
Usually, participating law enforcement agencies conducting LEFTs are only able to buy back junk. In most cases, no one one in their right mind would sell something so valuable – a quality firearm in serviceable condition – for a price so cheap such as the $50 Meijer’s gift cards given to Wayne County’s “Guns for Groceries” participants. Maybe the sellers at the St. Charles event were convinced and swayed by the persuasive rhetoric of local politicians and members of law enforcement. If they weren’t too stupid to sell a valuable tool for a pittance, they almost surely now feel that they were exploited by the very people in which they placed their trust.
The SCPD plan is deplorable. At best it’s hypocritical. At worse, unethical. For the paltry sum of a few dollars north of six grand, they turned a blind eye to their own anti-gun agenda and decided to sell out by compromising their principles. Whereas gun rights activists vehemently disagree with the arguments and positions of gun control advocates, there was at least a tacit agreement that each side truly believed that its actions were done in good conscience.
The SCPD’s plan to sell 20 guns it bought under the guise of lowering violent crime, casts a dark shadow not only on the intentions and aims of its agency but also on the true agenda of gun control advocates everywhere. Beyond a shadow of doubt, the SCPD doesn’t truly believe that destroying firearms will lower the violent crime rate. If that position was actually true, failing to destroy the guns would be tantamount to endangering the local community.
The SCPD’s LEFT was a dog-and-pony show all along. The price of admission was only the attendance of a compliant media, ready, willing and able to publish a fluff piece in the local papers. However, the real story is far more compelling: the SCPD has shown that it can be bought cheaply – for only about six grand.
Rick Ector is a National Rifle Association credentialed Firearms Trainer, who provides Michigan CCW Class training in Detroit for students at his firearms school – Rick’s Firearm Academy of Detroit. Ector is a recognized expert in firearm safety and has been featured extensively in the national and local media: Associated Press, UPI, NRAnews, Guns Digest, Tactical-Life, TownHall Magazine, The Politics Daily, The Huffington Post, The Take-Away with John Hockenberry, AmmoLand, AriseTV, and the UrbanShooterPodcast. For more info about free shooting lessons for women and Michigan CCW Classes, please contact:
Rick’s Firearm Academy of Detroit