How do you judge the “success” of a gun buy-back? Well in Portland, Oregon, for instance, CeaceFire Oregon (Building safe and healthy communities free from gun violence in Oregon) has held buybacks for five years now. Except this year they only collected 43 guns, down from 152 last year. How to account for the decline? “Mary Tompkins, Ceasefire Oregon executive director, said the novelty of the gun turn-in may have worn off after five years.” That could be part of it. Another reason might have been the two dozen or so “gun collectors” outside waiving cash at people before they entered the building…
The buy-backers were offering $50 grocery store gift cards for each heater handed in. According to portlandtribune.com, the curbside collectors were a little more generous.
The gun collectors waved signs at cars approaching the lot, reading: “I buy guns, $50-$200 cash.”
By the end of the day, the collectors said they had managed to buy 10 to 15 guns that otherwise would have been turned in and destroyed.
Whether the collectors were there for the opportunity to buy undervalued firearms or as a Second Amendment protest was hard to discern.
Apparently asking them wasn’t an option? Making some sort of larger point about the advisability of taking guns on a no-questions-asked basis and then destroying them may have been a factor for some. But it sounds like the chance to buy some nice guns cheap was at least as big a motivator.
“We’re here trying to save decent guns,” said Bob Galloway, a gun collector who drove from Eugene for the event. Galloway said he owns 50 guns but never shoots them.
Jim Clark, also a Eugene collector, said he had another reason for hoping to persuade people to sell their turn-in guns to him. “They’re potentially destroying guns that may have been used in crimes,“ Clark said. “A criminal could bring a gun here that was used in a crime and it would be destroyed.”
At the parking lot’s other entrance, Southeast Portland resident Dave Nelson displayed the rifle and a shotgun he had bought during the day’s events. The rifle, he said, was worth about $150, and he bought it for $100.
Nelson, a Boy Scout leader, had found a useful marketing ploy; he was waving hundred dollar bills at cars approaching the parking lot. He said he would use the rifle to teach his scouts to shoot.
You go, Dave.
The CeaceFire Oregon folks weren’t pleased with the paltry take, though. And they had more than a little trouble believing the outside buyers’ intent was as simple as beefing up their arsenals.
Liz Julee, a Ceasefire Oregon Educational Foundation board member, looked at the men and women at the parking lot entrances and refused to accept that they were there only to add to their gun collections.
“I think it’s political,” Julee said. “I think it’s unfortunate that they feel they need to have an oppositional presence.”
After all, every gun bought outside was one fewer that was ultimately tossed into the smelter. That’s a bitter pill for a gun grabber to swallow. Never mind the fact that guns formerly held by people who didn’t want them and possibly weren’t storing them safely are now in the hands of responsible owners.
Typical of those who were bringing in guns was Vancouver, Wash., resident Barbara Luisi, who said her gun collector ex-husband had given her a rifle 20 years ago and it had been in her garage for years.
But safety wasn’t really the point. Ceasefire Oregon evidently only measures “success” by the number of guns no longer in the hands of private citizens.
Armed Intelligentsia members know an opportunity when they see one. It might be interesting if the Oregon collectors’ idea becomes an inspiration for similar buyer groups staking out buy-backs in other parts of the country.