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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


[email protected]


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  1. So they merely redistributed the guns. Makes sense, the government is all about redistribution.

    • I don’t mean to be disagreeable but I think redistribution may not quite get the nuance of the situation. Buy guns from the poor for very little money using deceptive marketing tactics, and sell them to the rich, for “fair market value”, then use the money generated to buy more from the poor. Repeat. I think that there might be a better word than redistribution for that but I cannot quite think of it.

      • Your cognitive dissonance is that this is being applied differently from the usual direction for wealth redistribution: it’s taking from people in possession of guns (who are, in addition, frequently at the “working class” or “working poor” rung on the socio-economic ladder) and giving to, well… no one. Technically it’s redistribution, but it begs the definition because there’s no beneficiary.

        The working-class gun turner-inners get screwed because they’re trading guns with actual value for tokens of much lower value in return.

        The government in the example above comes out neutral at best because they’re recouping costs they shouldn’t have advanced in the first place. (This changes when LEFTs are funded by private donors but government makes money selling the guns, of course, effectively converting the donor’s money into a police equipment fund.)

        The buyers (both dealer and end-user) don’t especially benefit because the government presumably sells to the dealer at some reasonable wholesale value and receives credit towards future spending in return.

        In the end, I suppose the argument could be made that this is not, in fact redistribution — it’s destruction of value by government action, and those relinquishing the guns are victims of fraud.

        • Sounds like government redistribution to me.

          1. Take a lot of money from rich people.

          2. Use most of that money for “government services” aka firearms for police.

          3. Give a tiny fraction of that to the poor in exchange for their freedom.

          Except it was done in reverse order.

      • @ Resident CT:

        Fraud is the word you’re looking for; the word Alpha Greek finally got to.

        And that word pretty much describes the entire grabber effort.

  2. Part of me feels sorry for the poor dopes who get suckered into trading a servicable firearm for a small fraction of it’s worth. The rest of me doesn’t. That part of me hopes there will be wails of anguish and gnashing of teeth by the civilian disarmament industry over the very idea that these guns will go back in the system.

  3. Nailed it. I fscking HATE these worthless “gun buybacks”, especially when I see the worthless .32 caliber pot-metal revolvers and too-dangerous-to-use break-barrel shotguns that are commonly turned in.

    Corollary to the author’s point: Selling guns of value to a dealer clearly endorses the idea that lawfully-acquired firearms are NOT a meaningful contributor to gun crime rates.

  4. Well said, Mr. Ector… when “public safety” programs become moneymakers for cops, who can you trust?

  5. Law enforcement must be decoupled from revenue generation. We see the problem with speed traps, and confiscation of vehicles/whatever else in drug related incidents.

    The pursuit of money drives the wrong behavior.

    And we’re not even touching on how these “no questions asked” buy-backs provide criminals a ready market for, and incentive to steal them in the first place.


    • Law enforcement must be decoupled from revenue generation.

      That’s easy to arrange: Just tax the homes or incomes in the jurisdiction and fund the PD. However, this violates the ancient common-law provision which states “Don’t tax you an’ don’t tax me, tax that feller behind the tree.”

  6. People assume that liberals have morals..why?

    Its all about what is best for themselves at the moment.

    • “People assume that government employees have morals..why?

      Its all about what is best for themselves at the moment.”


  7. I’m in law enforcement, and I’ve never “set the example” by trading in a gun worth hundreds of dollars for a $50 or $100 dollar gift certificate. Perhaps they should just rename gun buybacks as “Taxpayer Funded Evidence Destruction.”

    • Something tells me your leadership would take a dim view of you turning in an issued duty weapon for a buyback coupon, even if you immediately signed over that coupon to your department.

      Seems to me that this is a pretty good sniff test for whether gun buys are an equitable trade, even allowing for the intangible benefit of “getting a gun off the streets”…

      • What they’re really doing — at most — is getting guns out of basements and closets. The one’s that are “on the streets” won’t be turned in any time soon.

  8. That’s hilarious, though…. they paid good money for (mostly) useless guns. TAXPAYER money, at that. (And the cops keep the good guns, if there are any.)

    Now they’re on financial ropes, and selling they back… to DIFFERENT taxpayers!

  9. That’s a load of crap, I should go to one of these buy backs and inform some of these people if the firearms have any true value…

    • They did in Seattle. We all had a BIG LOL over this one.

      “Police officers in Seattle, Washington held their first gun buyback program in 20 years this weekend, underneath interstate 5, and soon found that private gun collectors were working the large crowd as little makeshift gun shows began dotting the parking lot and sidewalks. Some even had “cash for guns” signs prominently displayed.”

      “Police stood in awe as gun enthusiasts and collectors waved wads of cash for the guns being held by those standing in line for the buyback program.”

  10. St.Charles is a far upper middle class city.They dont need the money and they certainly are not preventing crimes that were not going to be committed in the first place.Just more lies and manipulation from the boys in blue out to screw you.

  11. Frankly, it’s not all that clear that the guns being sold by the department were purchased through a buy-back program, as opposed to being weapons that were seized or simply turned in. The underlying article is a bit vague on this.

  12. I wonder what the chances that those guns that were in ‘good condition’ were stolen, and stolen recently. Perhaps even used in a homicide. After all, if you want to get rid of a crime gun…

  13. Getting guns off the streets? What about getting the criminals off the streets? Maybe it’s not politically acceptable, but it will actually do some good.

  14. So what happens if one of those 20 guns that are suddenly “legal” end up being used in a crime, or found in a Mexican drug kingpin’s house?
    Now THAT would be an interesting legal web to unravel.

  15. I wonder. “Drugs” and “terrorism” are well known schemes for departments to have the money spigot turned on. Is gun control going to be another way of getting easy money? Aside from the current confiscations, voluntary or otherwise.

  16. I think It’s a brilliant way to catch criminals. Lure them in with a no questions asked gun buyback, have plenty of video surveillance. Anyone you think is suspect goes into the special pile where it can later resold and legally traced. Refer back to surveillance footage to see who turned in what then you know who to go arrest. Writing fiction is fun! Now I see what’s so alluring about working for the MSM.

  17. That’s a freaking long article for something that presents no new information and only rehashes in a more long winded form an article from just the other day. To what purpose? An ad for his firearms training business. Another hit on google? It’s called “product placement” and/or “selling out”, and it erodes TTAG’s credibility.

  18. “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.”

    Keep saying it!

  19. So who is going to be the first person to turn in a bunch of liberators and make a bunch of money off of it?

  20. Anyone a actually read the Tribure article? The author here has twisted the facts so bad it’s not even funny. I live in St. Charles this buy back program was so well advertised and promoted that I didn’t know anything about it until now.

    Facts: We’re talking about a whole 20 guns. Four of which are old service weapons the PD doesn’t want any more. That leaves 16 guns. As the article states MOST are COURT SEIZED firearms.

    Hmmm a gov’t body selling seized property happens all the time. This isn’t a news story move along.

  21. i don’t see what’s so wrong here. people who are stupid enough to turn in their valuable guns for pennies on the dollar deserve to be had and probably shouldn’t have guns to begin with, the guns don’t get destroyed, and hopefully the guns end up in a loving home where they’re well cared for. win/win/win!

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