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Guns Save Life and their honcho John Boch have made plenty of news in the last few weeks. And a few waves, too. They’re the group that raked in thousands by hauling a load of busted junkers up north to Mogadishu on Lake Michigan, all to fund an NRA gun camp for kids. But not everyone was amused. So when the Champaign-Urbana area – that’s Guns Save Life’s back yard – held their own buyback yesterday (final tally: 104 guns collected), they were braced for a repeat performance. Here’s John’s account of one participant’s experience . . .

The former Urbana, Illinois Assembly of God Church, now known as Stonecreek Church, sponsored a gun buyback in Champaign on Saturday, August 4th. Instead of the ‘no questions asked’ policy that was advertised, one family who turned in guns found a cumbersome, contentious experience complete with lots of questions and a healthy dose of rudeness and intimidation.

Darren Lucas of Rankin, Illinois said he arrived bright and early with four guns in tow. Accompanied by his wife, the two were taken aback at the inquisitive atmosphere right out of the gate, especially in an atmosphere with so many police officers around.

“It’s supposed to be a ‘no questions asked’ event, but the first thing out of their mouth was ‘Are you friends with John Boch?’,” Lucas said. “How is that relevant to this?” Lucas said he asked the man he believed to be the church’s pastor, Gary Grogan. “We don’t want to waste our money on friends of John Boch,” the pastor replied. “You know, we don’t have to accept your guns.”

“‘No pertinent questions would be a better description of their policy,” Lucas laughed when describing the inquisitive process of turning his guns in. It took Lucas nearly a half hour to surrender three of his guns and get paid for them.

“They wanted to know what kind of guns I had, what caliber and so forth,” Lucas recalled.  The intimidation began when they wouldn’t accept his rusty old .22 rifle that was missing pieces and parts for a $50 card. Lucas asked for it back and they reluctantly returned it.

Then, after providing him a brochure, they offered him only two pre-paid credit cards for the three guns they accepted. When Lucas asked where the third card was, another church pastor, Terry Austria, rudely said they would only give a maximum of two cards per person.

“Here’s my wife. There are two of us. If you’re not going to pay me for it, give me a gun back,” Lucas told Austria. Austria rudely refused and told Lucas to talk with the police officer if he wanted to retrieve his gun.

After five or ten minutes of back and forth, the church’s representatives found they weren’t going to intimidate the Lucas family out of that third card. Pastor Austria, “with tears in his eyes” passed the third card over, asking “What are you doing here?”

“It was so bizarre,” Lucas recalled.

In the first half-hour of the four hour event, Mr. Lucas said he estimated the sponsors took less than a half-dozen guns from the first three people there. “There were probably eight cars behind us,” he said when they left at 10:30. This would suggest the event’s sponsors were going to fall well-short of their target of 400 guns collected.

Other observations from Mr. Lucas: They asked each of the first three people present if they were friends with John Boch and quizzed them about the make, model and caliber of the guns they were turning in.

Approximately ten police officers were present from various departments as part of this event, hardly making it anonymous for any known local criminals who might have taken advantage of the offer.

The Urbana police officer taking the guns wasn’t as familiar with handling the ancient Iver-Johnson break-open revolvers as he might have been. Lastly, the Urbana Police Department is taking custody of the turned in guns and the Urbana Police Chief Pat Connelly has pledged that all guns will be destroyed, without exception. Lucas said the guns he turned in were certainly far from range-worthy.  “These were junk,” he said. “Pure and simple.”

Unlike the earlier Chicago buyback, Guns Save Life declined to participate in the Champaign buyback due to the low prices offered by the sponsors.

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  1. Pastors behaving badly
    by John Boch
    (GunNews) – I spoke with Pastor Gary Grogan of Urbana’s Stonecreek Church, formerly known as the Urbana Assembly of God church some weeks ago after the formal announcement of their gun buyback program.

    He claimed he was a member of the NRA and seeks more gun safety education to keep our families safer. I told him we shared that desire and Guns Save Life would be delighted to work with the church in that endeavor, but that we saw gun buy backs as misguided foolishness.

    Out of respect for a church that some of our members attend and the meager offer for guns, I told Grogan that Guns Save Life would not be participating and would not work to embarrass them as we did Chicago earlier this summer.

    True to our word, we didn’t participate.

    However, when I heard of the rudeness, intimidation and unpublished conditions imposed upon those who wished to participate I was shocked.

    Men of the cloth acting impolitely to their neighbors? Men of the cloth telling others to lie to those who wished to surrender unwanted guns per published terms?

    What has our nation come to?

    It makes me doubt Pastor Gary Grogan is really an NRA member as he repeatedly claimed in his phone call with me.

    I’m reluctant to call a Christian pastor a liar, so I’ll make a public offer for the good Pastor Grogan: I’ll trade a legal, firing sawed-off shotgun for a copy of your current NRA membership card and your valid FOID card with 24-hours notice before August 31, 2012.

    • Men of the cloth acting impolitely to their neighbors?

      Well, that’s Chicago. In Boston, men of the cloth diddle their neighbors’ preteen sons. I’d say that Chicago is getting off easy.

      • For the record, Catholic clergy molest children at a much lower rate than the general population. (I am not Catholic, btw.)

  2. These fools are to stupid to realize that the majority of the guns being turned in don’t fire. They’re buying worthless crap that no gun dealer would ever take in for free.

  3. This should be the tactic every time we see one of these things. Keep quiet, be polite, be patient. Get the money and very loudly and very publicly donate it to pro-gun causes.

  4. … Approximately ten police officers were present from various departments as part of this event …

    On the clock or off the clock?

    • C’mon. Seriously? You don’t think they were there just for the free donuts, do you?

  5. What a flippin’ joke. And the sad part is, I’m sure at least some of the people running these things believe they’re reducing crime.

  6. “Pastor Austria, “with tears in his eyes” passed the third card over, asking “What are you doing here?”
    It was so bizarre,” Lucas recalled.”

    The above is similar to much of my overall experiences with the behavior and the leadership in organized religion.

    Would God prefer the earth populated with seven million righteous people or seven billion semi-human monkeys? I think that many modern western religious leaders and others trying to create the modern nanny minded state have not understood the good lessons of Sodom and Gomorrah. I think that at times doing the right thing is more important than obsessing over saving every human life. They also ignore the teachings for individuals to stand up and take action against immoral violence and theft. An armed citizen can fight evil and a parent determine to commit a murder/suicide upon their family does not need a gun. Ah well, most people (at least in modern America) regardless of their title or role do not look much beneath the symptoms of an illness or problem to identify the real issue and then take steps to cure it.

  7. Wow, that pastor has some issues. Watching antis at work is like witnessing a carnival freak show; sad and amazing at the same time.

  8. Guys, you really have to know these “clowns” down here… I live just outside “urbana”, I have no issues with “faith”, but this church is a bunch of bible tumpin mfers, that crawl outa the woodwork whenever they think a project like this can make them “look” better…. Ended up being a EPIC waste of time for all those involved. I’d have to say “Urbana’s finest” were on the clock also….

    Church’s like these are just a “start up” for future Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton types…

    That’s just MHO…..

  9. TTAG should sponsor a Politician Buyback where people could trade in their old, broke-ass bought-and-paid-for nonworking politicians and we could buy them back, no questions asked. Of course, immediately after the repurchase, all the pols would have to be humanely destroyed, because we could not take the chance of them falling into the wrong hands.

    This might become expensive, but what the heck. It’s for the children.

    • I concurr! Definitely a winner here! But the sad thing is we actually can’t do it, except by the slow process of voting them out, and even then, they tend to pop back up in circulation again….

  10. I don’t understand why people come up with these? What criminal would turn in a gun for $50?

    That’s like selling your old cell that worth at least $100+ to Best Buy for $20. When you could sell it on craigslist for $100+!

    If its someone that legal owns the gun why not go to LGS or Pawn and sell it for more?

    • If you are looking to get rid of a gun that was used in a crime, or a gun that has been altered so as to make it a “firearm” under the NFA, the opportunity to anonymously sell that hunk of risk to the police is a pretty attractive one.

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