Another day, another “gun buyback.” I use quote marks because the police conducting these cash-for-guns events didn’t sell the firearms to their owners. So they’re not really buying them back. They’re buying them. No questions asked. Quite why the cops would want to create a black market for firearms—other than political expediency—is beyond me. But not beyond Sgt. Chris Yagelski, the man in charge of Michigan City, Indiana’s annual Get More Buck for Your Bang Gun Drive . . .
“Sgt. Chris Yagelski considered the two-day drive a success,” co-sponsor heraldargus.com reports. “Among the  guns received were a 1936 Italian rifle and a 1955 handgun in its original box, which Yagelski said was in ‘pristine condition’ and was probably never even fired. ‘Items like that are far more valuable than the $50 they are getting,’ Yagelski said. ‘That’s what is interesting about the drive and getting guns out of the community.'”
Interesting? Sure. So I called Sgt. Yagelski. Gun enthusiast that I am, I asked him for a little more detail on the not-s0-broken-ass firearms collected by GMGYBGD. The rifle in question is a French made MAS-36. Wikipedia:
The MAS Modèle 36 was a military bolt action rifle. First adopted in 1936 by France and intended to replace the Berthier and Lebel series of service rifles, it saw service past the World War II period. It was manufactured by Manufacture d’armes de Saint-Étienne (MAS), one of several government-owned arms factories in France.
While you could say the MAS is “far more valuable” than $50 you’d be hard-pressed to spend more than $400 on the 7.5×54mm French firing firearm. The ’55 in-box revolver was a Smith & Wesson model 64 Military and Police, the .38 caliber six-shot stainless steel version of the Model 10. Again, it’s not a particularly valuable piece.
Certainly not as valuable as the Tommy Gun that sits amongst the 550 guns on display in the shatter-proof, bullet-proof display permanent display case located in the lobby of the Michigan City police department. Confiscated, unclaimed and purchased guns that avoided the smelter—the fate awaiting the MAS and the Model 64 and all the other guns purchased by the PD over the weekend. Needless to say, Sgt. Yagelski’s got no problem with that.
“It’s a chance to get unwanted and unused guns off the street,” he told TTAG. “Most of the guns come from elderly people who don’t want them anymore.” When I pointed out the logistical fallacy—if the guns are coming from the houses of elderly people they aren’t “on the street”—Yagelski didn’t miss a beat. “The program stops guns that aren’t safely or properly stored from being stolen.”
I asked Sgt. Yagelski if he thought gun buybacks had any appreciable effect on the crime rate. After a bit of prevarication, the policeman asserted that they did, ’cause guns that can’t be stolen can’t be used by criminals, you know, eventually. Which is the main justification for all gun buybacks. But not the only one. Back to heraldargus.com:
Explaining the point of the drive is to keep guns out of unsafe and inexperienced hands, Yagelski said during the drive a woman brought in a loaded, 9 mm handgun that belonged to her late husband. It was still in the holster and she was unsure how to unload it.
Not wanting to be in possession of the dangerous firearm, she drove from Valparaiso to donate the gun during the gun drive.
“That’s the idea. She had no idea even how to unload it, so how dangerous is that in her house?” Yagelski said. “The gun drive is serving its purpose.”
I asked Sgt. Yagelski whether any local person had tried to purchase the guns at the buyback, before their owners exchanged them for Walmart gift cards. He seemed genuinely taken aback. “We don’t allow it,” he stated flatly. Turns out the buyback is held in the police station lobby (in front of that display case) and LaPorte doesn’t allow “soliciting on the street.”
“It is a very worthwhile project and we appreciate everyone’s participation,” Yagelski told the local paper. “As long as there’s a need, we will continue the program.” It’s too bad the firearms themselves aren’t shown the same appreciation.