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By Shawn Graber

Last summer, I saved a Mossberg 500A 12-gauge shotgun from the gaping maw of state-assisted eviceration. A city here in Iowa was offering “CA$H 4 TEH EVIL BOOMSTICKS” with high hopes that the noble City Council would rescue the local citizens from getting shot by their malevolent, unattented firearms. The local police department had raised $1,700 by panhandling at local businesses, and the funds were used to purchase $100 grocery gift cards which would be traded for surrendered firearms. You did the math correctly . . .

The police department, over 12 months of fundraising, accumulated enough dough to purchase 17 evil terrorist assault guns from the trembling populace. The local chapter of First Responders matched the $1,700 already raised in a last-minute gambit to rid the streets of violent bloodshed for a total of $3,400. The 128,000 residents would be able to sleep easier knowing 34 guns had been melted down, never to haunt the alleyways and unlit parking lots of their fair city.

A few of my friends and I ran up to the community center to offer cash for the guns being surrendered. Many of the attendants preferred cash over the $100 Hy-Vee gift cards, but admitted their wares were worth much less than $100. One grizzled farmer cackled and said, “Heh, I’d NEVER give anything of value to the government! But this old shotgun doesn’t function anymore, so I’ll get some groceries out of it.”

Rusted .22 caliber bolt-action rifles, muzzle loaders, shotguns, BB-guns…I even saw a pair of tiny revolvers that shot little mace caplets. They were made back in the 1970’s when someone thought it would be a good idea to sell a mace delivery system that LOOKED like a functioning handgun, because what could go wrong with that?


Soon, the police academy ran out of gift cards. They continued to accept surrendered firearms but offered nothing in return. This made our offers of cash for decent firearms even more appealing.

The local news crew showed up to document the heroic efforts of the city while murmuring about the Merchants of Death trying to purchase guns for cash out on the sidewalk. Oh yes, my friends and I, along with several other enterprising purchasers, were standing out on the sidewalk because the officers made it extremely clear that we were not allowed on the public property of the community center. As soon as a vehicle exited the street and entered the parking lot, they were exposed to our insidious cash-based temptations.

A minivan pulled up to the parking lot as I hailed it with my most charming, non-Freddy Kreuger-esque smile. I informed the man that the gift cards had all been taken, but if he was willing to show me the firearm he brought, I’d offer him cash for it. He made noises of agreement, but rolled down his window and motioned to the nearby police officer.

“Is it legal for me to sell a gun to this guy?” The driver asked, motioning toward me. “I don’t like it,” the officer growled, “But there’s nothing I can do about it.”

The driver hopped out of his van and opened up the hatch, revealing a beautiful Mossberg 500A 12-gauge shotgun wrapped in towels. I checked the action of the pump, which was buttery smooth. The wood was well-maintained and the barrel was free of rust. I peeled out my driver’s licence, my concealed carry permit, and five crisp Jacksons to present to the driver. He checked my documents, grabbed the cash, shook my hand, and drove off.


Amongst the riff-raff of rust and decay, there were a few nice firearms. Our group rescued several of those from their grim fate but we were unable to save them all. The few gems that slipped through our hands linger in my memory like that monster trout that slipped off my hook back when I was 15. The nice GLOCK handgun that got smelted comes to mind.

I wish I could tell that man in the minivan all the joy his shotgun has brought me, all the clay pigeons that have met their demise staring down its business end. This past winter, I used that beautiful Mossberg to harvest a large corn-stealing white-tail doe, the meat (and jerky) of which has kept me well-fed. I’ve owned the gun for a little over a year now, but I know I’ll someday show it to my future grandchildren and tell them all about the $100 shotgun.

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  1. How much street crime does a city in Iowa have? Are the streets so filled with violence that Andy and Barney feel it’s needed to panhandle for loose guns?

    I expect this level of stupid in NY or CA, but Iowa?

    • JWM:

      Iowa is very low crime. The problem is Cedar Rapids, population about 130,000 (where this compensated confiscation took place) has a group of about 20 young men that are thug wannabes. When the government changed the rules on which states you could put your name on for low income housing in the 1990s there was a migration here from Chicago and the Chicago attitude came with them. My understanding from the law enforcement people I’m friends with is they live by the code of silence and won’t assist the police on anything which makes the cops jobs hard. There’s been several shootings amongst the minithungs which spawned this hairbrained “buyback” idea. Waterloo, population about 70,000, has the same issue with about 15-20 minithugs that are currently in a “war” with each other over “respect.” Which I find funny because no one respects any of them because they are criminal thugs.

      I’m really glad the author was able to get the Mossberg. I would have gone down there but had a prior engagement I couldn’t miss. I about cried when I saw the picture of the SMALL pile of rusted worn out firearms in the newspaper. Amongst the rusty junk there was the Glock he mentioned and a Remington Nylon 66 which I would have loved to own, assuming it functioned as good as it looked.

      • Thanks for the info. And….Nylon 66 for the win. I just can’t get excited about Glocks or their fate.

      • I still have my Black Nylon 66 that I received when I was 12. My dad has the Mohawk Brown 66 that he bought after he liked the weight and usefulness of mine. They sure did love the native american names, Apache Black and Mohawk Brown were the names of the different colors.

      • It’s going to get worse though. Obumsters DHS has a new policy where they have determined that “Eastern” Iowa is part of the Khicago metroplex and will be receiving forced resettlement of undesirables. Or they loose fed bribe/club $. Dubuque is already seeing the impact.

        Lets just stipulate that the new carpetbagger Chef de PoPo is an incompetent east coast statist. German hails from the Peoples Republic of Maryland as I recall (which fits). A useless waste of O2.

        • My apologies for not mentioning Dubuque. You’re 100% correct and that is the path your town is heading down. In Iowa we import our thugs and criminals from Chicago and give them housing that we pay for with our taxes. The feds screwed CR in the 1990s and is screwing Dubuque right now. It’s going to get worse for all of eastern Iowa thanks to the DHS.

  2. I think this entry is in the top five so far.

    I assume they had at least 40 gift cards, depending on how good a deal they got from the grocery store.

  3. “The nice GLOCK handgun that got smelted comes to mind” SUUURREEEE it got smelted, right. wink,wink.

  4. Perhaps it’s time to start PETF (People for the Ethical Treatment of Firearms.). I wonder if money paid by a non profit to rescue firearms from abuse would be tax deductible…

    One way to find out.

    • Vent rib, wood stock and sling swivels already installed. My 500 12 bore has the crappy black stock and I had to put my on swivels on.

      And he got this for a hunnert bucks. Apparently, in Iowa deals still exist on guns.

  5. Haven’t done this in Florida (yet that I know of).
    Wow what a catch, some these folks are foolish. I mistakenly fired a black powder load an forgot to clean it. An left my primer cap on. A gunsmith, an 20ish dollars later it was fixed. Sure it seemed like junk from a mistake and may not have worked, an i think some were given up in Iowa. I appreciate the efforts you an your friends did. Good going.

  6. Great idea to get some nice inexpensive guns. The Glock is no big loss, they should all be smelted and melted. The plastic should make good Air-soft toy guns.

  7. Blessings upon you and your friends for saving as many as you could. I just wish I could find out about a “buyback” near me so I could unload some nasty, rusty junk, and maybe save a few good ones also.

  8. I’m assuming Cedar Rapids….

    No, violent crime isn’t too bad, it generally happens in an area that still hasn’t recovered from the great flood.
    Unfortunately, there has been a huge influx of low income Chicago residents who brought a few gang banger types with them. The net result is that it’s a lot more common to hear about shootings and stabbings on the news the next day.
    I’m all people fleeing Chicago, it just sucks when you see a corresponding spike in violent crime.

  9. our 2A group was going to do this here. We had a FFL dealer member on site as well. The police did all transfers inside a warehouse (drive your car in with the guns in an unlocked trunk) where no one was allowed to see. we were told it would be “interfering” to set up outside and would be an arrestable offense. So we were going to stand around with signs listing prices and desire to buy optics, furniture, and all non serialized parts for cash. Same response from the police. As we’re all adults with families and responsibilities, getting arrested for principles wasn’t something we could do. Zero transparency was the order of the day.

    • Rick, what law would you be breaking that they could arrest you for ? Did they cite the law to you ? If not maybe they were doing that just to intimidate you into compliance ? Maybe bring a lawyer friend that is into guns next time. Be great if they arrested you on charges that could not be backed up by law as you could sue the Hell out of them for false arrest and maybe for coercion using the law, or something like that ? I am obviously not a lawyer but don’t think it is right they get away with stuff like that unless there is actually a law that prohibits what you were trying to do. Even then it is probably counter to your Constitutional Rights as a citizen.

  10. “I don’t like it,” the officer growled, “But there’s nothing I can do about it.”

    He’s just jealous that he has to sit around making a fool of himself paying way over market value for scrap iron, while other people are getting deals on guns.

  11. Priceless quote from someone that was commenting on the gun buyback there: “Participating in a gun buy-back program because you think that criminals have too many guns is like having yourself castrated because you think your neighbors have too many kids.”

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