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By John Boch

On Saturday, June 23, three of Guns Save Life’s intrepid members, Chris Betley, John Sutter and Steve Fuller drove to Chicago to participate in the city’s annual gun “turn in” event titled, “Don’t Kill A Dream Save A Life.” In short, the sum real-world value of the guns we took up to the Windy City would have been calculated by most people – ourselves included – solely on their scrap metal value. To the gun-hating do-gooders up there, though, they were worth big dollars; $100 for each firearm and $10 for BB-guns and replicas. No questions asked. So, to take advantage of this artificial market for accumulated rust and machined parts, we sent our three members up north with sixty “guns” and four pellet pistols . . .

This was a larger and more organized endeavor than our 2007 trip where Guns Save Life sold $2300 worth of rusty scrap metal to these same do-gooders who live by the lake. In more recent years, Mayor Daley was only offering $50 for guns, so GSL sat those events out.

But we didn’t take those years off. We’ve been busy collecting non-firing junk donated by our GSL members almost non-stop, earmarking the rusty, broken-down clunkers for the self-defense eschewing gun-haters in Chicago. And it’s all for a good cause: the children.

Keep in mind that for this event, we use the term “firearms” loosely as these guns were, by and large, non-functioning scrap. Even the guns that didn’t look like they’d spent the last twenty years at the bottom of Lake Erie were frequently missing trigger groups or other significant parts. Many were little more than barreled receivers, including ten pre-1898 Mausers. Out of the sixty guns we collected, maybe a dozen would actually manage to shoot a round or two. But some of those would probably have been pretty exciting (in a dangerous way) to fire.

When our boys arrived in the big city with their truckload o’ guns that no self-respecting criminal would dare to be caught dead with, our members found plenty of po-po on hand. “There was a heavy police presence at all the turn-in locations,” Betley said in describing his experience.

“If you were a criminal, there’s no way you’d go to one of these,” Betley said. “There were police everywhere, including detectives that were sizing up people as they came in. They knew what we were up to. Most of them didn’t care,” Betley noted, “but some of the younger detectives acted pissed off about it.”

At the second location they visited, our members ran into what they all agreed was a tenacious, bordering on obnoxious detective. The detective hit our three guys up with a series of rapid-fire questions and pointed remarks. “Where in the hell did you dig these up? Out of a grave site?” the detective asked. “Who are you with? What’s your affiliation?” he continued. So much for that “no questions asked” policy.

Betley said he told those who asked, including the rude detective, that we’d been collecting old clunkers as a fundraiser for our youth camp. “I didn’t mention that it was a youth camp with guns,” Betley laughed heartily. Another detective there also gave them some grief.  “Hey, next time, get some guns from this century, will ya?”

One CPD officer “broke” one of our guns by beating it against a metal door frame trying to open the action to ensure it was unloaded. It was an old muzzle-loading double-barreled shotgun that was missing a stock and much of its receiver. That made opening the action to check for shotgun shells an understandably difficult proposition.

After breaking the rusty barrels open, the cop then refused to give us credit for turning it in as he said it wasn’t a gun. In a moment of poetic justice, though, a paperwork snafu at the next location netted us two cards that our members told them we weren’t entitled to, but the sponsors insisted we take them. In the end, we brought back $6140 worth of gift cards.

At the third location, one of the detectives was much friendlier and said that he saw an old Civil War-era revolver come through and thought it really sad. “And it wasn’t a replica,” the detective said, apparently knowing his stuff. We reckon any moron selling a $10,000 gun for $100 gets exactly what he deserves. Mostly though, what they got was junk turned in by predominately older folks.

John Sutter talked about his experience, saying he was a little nervous at first but really enjoyed participating in what he termed “a big adventure. Yeah, we were out of place,” he said. “But it was fun.”

Sutter said there was no parking at their third stop so they just parked in the street and began unloading the uncased rifles and shotguns out of the back of the truck. Then they carried them towards the church where they thought buyback was being held. That’ss when some nearby cops hollered at them, “Boys! You’re on the wrong side of the street!”

They then carried their rusted iron (or loot, depending on your perspective) back across a busy street to the proper church. They laugh about it now. “Where else could you walk across a busy street with an armload of uncased guns in Chicago?”

In the end, Guns Save Life netted about $5000 to be used for upcoming youth shooting events, thanks to the hard work and donations from dozens of our members. We’ll be using most of the proceeds to buy ammunition for the annual Darnall’s NRA Youth Shooting Camp held each summer in Bloomington, IL at Darnall’s GunWorks and Ranges, and to buy some of the guns they give away to participants.

The camp – the longest running NRA Youth Shooting Camp in the nation – hosts about 100 kids ages 9-16 each year over four days and three nights. The kids who attend learn basic firearm safety along with shooting fundamentals and get some practical experience with a variety of disciplines including rifles, pistols, black powder, cowboy action, air rifle, trap, archery, hunting safety and education and more. Instruction, often at an Olympic level of quality, is provided by long-time experienced NRA certified instructors and shooting coaches.

At the conclusion of the camp, awards are presented and as many as twenty guns are given away to the young participants.

Guns Save Life has been a strong supporter of this youth camp for over ten years now, and is frequently the event’s single largest sponsor. GSL purchases most, if not all of the ammo used each year – tens of thousands of rimfire rounds and thousands of shot shells. And to help things run smoothly, dozens of our active members donate their time either as instructors or volunteers.

I’m proud to be president of this fine organization and couldn’t be happier about what our members accomplished in Chicago on Saturday. We collected these guns in anticipation of this foolish event orchestrated by big city gun bigots, executed our plan to sell them and used the gift cards to help teach tomorrow’s gun owners safe and responsible use of firearms.

So thank you Mayor Emanuel. We hope you’ll do it again next year. For the children, of course.

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    • Now that is just plain not-nice.

      First off, its a gross generalization, its not true or fair to paint all police officers with the same brush. Second, these were the same cops paying top dollar for scrap metal.

      How is that A$$holery?

      • To be precise, these cops were paying top dollar for scrap metal using taxpayers’ money.

        Sounds like a$$holery to me.

        • They were only doing as they were ordered to do by their elected officials. Now that Chief of Police…I think he fits that description perfectly. Did you see his press release interview ? Holly crap

        • I don’t even care if a$$holery isn’t a word (although it should be). I agree. Precious tax dollars down a rat hole. And besides, what kind of mindless goon would want to wear the badge in a two bit metropolis like Chi-town anyway. You would think the cops would have better things to do on the way to their 3% at 50 retirement boondogle.

        • Meh. $6k of taxpayer’s money to support a youth firearms training camp sounds like a good investment to me.

      • I’m going to take a shot in the dark and guess you’ve never had to deal with the police.

        I have two family members that are cops as well as several friends who are cops and I fully agree with the notion that cops are assholes.

      • It only takes 1 cop to make a stereo type true…

        when the local Chief of police protected his gay lovers son from Criminal prosecution for multiple Criminal offence’s which are all Canadian equivalents to a felony.

        He proved it for all cops

        All cops are brutal thugs support will raping and abusing innocent people.

      • There were plenty of generalizations in the article about “big city folk.” (PS–I’m NOT the John Sutter in the article.) 🙂

    • I gotta say this:

      You want to keep this country free? You want to keep your rights – all of them, not just your 2A rights?

      Do NOT alienate the professions that could easily be used to take our freedoms from us. Police and military. Why don’t they turn against the “common” people? Because so far, we’ve been able to keep those professions full of “common” people. Keep the middle class and upper lower class large and alive and you keep the police and military on the side of the people because that is where a bulk of police and military come from. Alienate them – culturally as you do with your generalization – or economically as the politicians and extremely wealthy are trying – and then the police and military have little reason NOT to turn on the “common” people.

      If you think your semi auto AR is going to stop an Abrams you are as delusional as the antis.

      • Really?? Treat the cops nice otherwise they’re gonna turn on us and shoot us down?? Wow… just, wow.

        • “Treat the cops nice otherwise they’re gonna turn on us and shoot us down”

          Where did I write that? I wrote – don’t alienate them. Keep them on our side.

          Sure, one way of doing that is treating them nice. But I do try to treat everyone nice. Antis included. And if I can’t bring myself to treat someone nicely, I try not to treat them badly. Maybe I was raised in a more tolerant household than you?

        • @Woodengun

          The police are already not on our side. They used to be on our side decades ago, then they went to “if you disagree with us in any way, you’re the enemy” and now they’ve moved on to “if you don’t wear a badge, you’re the enemy” mentality.

      • Why don’t they turn against the “common” people? Because so far, we’ve been able to keep those professions full of “common” people

        Dafuq?? Seriously, what are you smoking? They already actively make sure that use peasants know that the police can do anything they want with no repercussions.

        If you think your semi auto AR is going to stop an Abrams you are as delusional as the antis.

        If you think a combined 4 million police / military / federal agent (this counts secretaries too) force can take on 60+ million armed citizens, you’re sadly delusional. Besides, even if they did kill us all, who’s going to pay the taxes to fund them? Who are the thugs going to lord power over if we’re all dead?

        • Ultimately, discriminating against every police officer by calling them an A$$hole does not benefit your 2A cause. It just makes you look like an idiot.

    • Well said, Chas! And quite accurate for the OVERWHELMING majority of this country’s “Law Enforcement” officers who have been continually spitting on their oath to the Constitution ever since they pinned on their badges.

  1. My buddy was a cop back east, said they had a couple gun turn in programs like this. As stated above people would turn in priceless antiques and other firearms he coveted, but could only drool over them. It was mandatory policy they were destroyed. Very sad.

  2. GREAT response to sell useless, rusted, scrap firearms at a “buyback” to raise money for a youth shooting camp! These events should be exposed as the foolishness they are.

  3. On one hand it’s “sticking it to the man”. On the other hand, it’s “sticking it to us” since our tax dollars are paying people for their useless crap. At least in this case the money is going to a good cause (the kid’s camp).

  4. Our participation was less an “FU” to the police and a whole lot more about using our enemies’ money for the cause of good, instead of allowing them to spend it for evil.

    Freedom wins this time.

    • If we wanted to donate firearms to this or similar causes, is there a URL to point us to?

  5. If a cop started asking me those questions when I was purchasing a gun I’d say “Considering I’m a law-abiding citizen, non of your god damn business how I exercise my amendment rights to own a firearm. Just don’t break into my house and you won’t have to worry.”

  6. This is one of the best stories that I ever read here. I laughed a few times while reading through it. Between the payouts and police salaries and operating costs, I wonder how much Chicago paid out.

    I just had an idea. I believe that it is legal to build your own gun provided it is kept in-state and possibly not sold to another person. It is a gun. Why not mass produce some cheap pieces of garbage and then try to sell them back. If Chicago won’t buy them back then sue the City.

    • Already been done.

      Some “artist” found out how to make “functional” firearms out of scrap, dressed them up and sold them at a police buy back. I believe it was on another blog.

  7. Way to go guys!!!!
    Man I need to do that… Then I could get going on those AR builds I want.. 🙂

  8. So what’ the criteria for a “replica” gun?

    Could one head to the dollar store, buy 2 for $1 cap guns and turn them in as replicas for $10 each?

    Maybe paint them black and scary first.

    • Don’t forget the orange muzzle! Wouldn’t want anybody to think that it is a real gun, and overpay you.

  9. Kids? With guns?!? They’re all going to get hurt! Or worse!!! They might even grow up to think for themselves! Then what will we do?!?

  10. You guys are heros. Seriously.

    Well done, lads.

    And yes, it is legal, per the ATF, to build a gun for your own use. You cannot sell guns built without a FFL (and to be able to make guns, a type 07 FFL is required, not a type 01 which is used for buying/selling guns), so you’d be on thin ice building them expressly for the purpose of turning them in for cash and/or prizes.

  11. Oh, and this?

    “One CPD officer “broke” one of our guns by beating it against a metal door frame trying to open the action to ensure it was unloaded. It was an old muzzle-loading double-barreled shotgun that was missing a stock and much of its receiver. That made opening the action to check for shotgun shells an understandably difficult proposition.”

    Is entirely consistent with my observations of police competence with firearms. If that shotgun had been loaded, he might have found out the hard way.

    • Is entirely consistent with my observations of police competence with firearms. If that shotgun had been loaded, he might have found out the hard way.

      You know the saying, “If if’s and but’s were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas”. Hell, I’d pay money to see that happen.

    • Well done!
      Nothing like using Saul Alinsky type tactics against the Left. Don’t you just love it when the tables are turned on the table-turners?

  12. Darn it, I missed that event. I have to start collecting old junk guns for the next buyback. Heck at $100 per gun if i turn in 20 guns then I can buy a sweet AR and even cover my travel expenses. (Mind you Chicago is a 5 hour drive for me!)

    What are the limitations? Can people from out of state turn in guns? Is there a limit to how many guns one person can turn in? Do the locations run out of money at some point?

    You know I shouldn’t have asked those questions … the people running the program will probably institute just those kind of limits to stop enterprising people like me from participating.

    • I traveled from a Chicago suburb and turned in 3 boat anchors. There was no limit on how many you could turn in. Even if there was one, just travel to multiple sites (they had 23 turn in sites). It’s no questions asked and I didn’t see anything saying you had to live in Illinois, so I don’t see the problem with being from out of state. I did hear of a couple of locations running out of the $10 cards for BB/Replicas so they handed out rain checks for the people to come back and collect them.

      Also from what I understood, the cards were loaded with money collected from private sponsorship funds (don’t know if 100%). On one of the fliers I saw, there was a bunch of radio stations listed as sponsors along with 7-11 listed as a sponsor.

  13. This plan has brilliance written all over it. What could be more poetically beautiful than turning the gun haters lame brained publicity scheme into a charity event for a shooting summer camp. This is better than killing two birds with one stone, it’s like killing an entire effing flock with one stone. Superb, tremendous and awesomely subversive. If I were a sentimental sort I could cry at the perfect logical and ethical symmetry of this operation. These lads deserve a place in The Gun Nut Hall of Fame.

  14. When they did this in Arizona a few years ago some of the guys from arizonashooting turned in a bunch of junk like this, and then offered free “appraisals” to folks turning stuff in. They ended up buying anything that was actually good before the cops could get ahold of it. 😉

    • I think this is an excellent idea. These turn-ins should be attended by a couple of collectors with wide-ranging knowledge of collectables and a gunsmith, who could make a quick appraisal as to the cost to repair some of the useful weapons being turned in.

  15. Although I despise gun buy back programs. Cause in my mind they provide an out for criminals to get rid of their guns that were used in crimes. I find it funny that a pro gun group discovered a creative way to use funds from a notoriously anti gun city to fund a pro gun program. I find that out standing. Keep up the outstanding work lol.

  16. This is one of the best things I have read in weeks, maybe months. Using the anti’s program to pay for kids to learn about gun safety in an NRA summer camp. Thank you for doing it! Thank you for sharing the story of how and why you did it! And thank you from the bottom of my heart, just because!

  17. Super clever! Though I laughed at the part where the “rusted shotgun” got broken when the detective was trying to open the action make sure it was clear.

    God bless those lucky kids!

    Wish I had gun fun/safety camp when I was a kid. Instead, my mom sent me to swim lessons. Yuck.

  18. I’m a Chicago Police Officer. The CPD isn’t the one handing out this free money. It’s the liberal machine that runs this shit hole. You won’t find one cop that supports this event. Hell most of us applaud when a gun owner shots and kills some shitbird for committing a robbery or burglary. So before calling us “assholes”. Try to put yourself in our shoes. We police in a city where we are hated by the wealthy white people in Wicker Park to the poor black folks in Englewood. In a city where a gang member can put on a suit and become an alderman.

    • You won’t find much love on TTAG, unfortunately. Many of our dear readers have had some negative experiences with LEO’s, and have subsequently acquired the expertise to deem all, or perhaps the majority of LEO’s as A$$holes who spit on the constitution. I’m not sure if LEO commentors have subsequently left, or if they are considering doing so. I certainly would not blame them.

      For what it’s worth, I appreciate your comment.

    • Oh its one of the scumbags who can protect the NATO and G8 filth with taxpayer money while having the highest murder rate in the country….nice to see all those guns on your street…we can only hope one gets used on you.

  19. Police are brainwashed – trained to hate non-cops. This training is promoted
    intentionally by those elitists who hate the Constitution. Read: Animal Farm -by George Orwell. The pigs (Communists) train up the 9 puppies to be the vicious, hostile, secret police – even threatening thier mother. The answer: Aid&Abet Police Newsletter – to encourage American police officers and enhance Constitutional litteracy. Search > read > share with police. Win their hearts back to our country.

  20. This is totally lame all around. Of coarse this ‘crowd’ will flame the hell out of me for saying this but, the police are lame for having this program. If officials want this done then the police aren’t the middlemen that you want and only if the funds were raised in advance by a grant or a freakin’ bake sale, I don’t care. As for the scammers turning in the guns to buy more guns for kids. You used tax money that you basically stole, I don’t care if the program is lame. Your attitude is of ‘one upmanship’ rather than anything justifiable. Then these gun ‘safety’ programs run by the NRA, my favorite bunch of stupids. If there are any ‘pistols’ at that camp, you are promoting vigilante attitudes. This attitude of ‘stand your ground’ is for dudes with small dicks. Kids under age can’t get a ‘carry’ license for a pistol anyway. Guns don’t save lives, at least not near the number that unintentionally are killed by lame people that have taken gun classes and still can’t aim.

    • How is defending yourself only for dudes with small dicks… im sorry are you saying that those who might actually protect themselves are phallically inferior to those who allow themselves to be victemized. Please provide some actuall research to back up your claims.

      • I’m afraid Larry is a hopeless case. I’m going to write him off as “beyond all earthly help”, and leave him to the angels.
        I find the irrational too much to deal with.

  21. God, the amount of cop hating loonies on this message board is sickening. The absurd statements about government conspiracies and every cop being an a-hole is sooooo overboard. Every profession has its ass-hats, but I will say 9/10 want to serve their community to the best of their ability. The people making the broad generalizations I am going to assume the most interaction with cops they’ve had is on the Fox network Saturdays at 8pm, even if you are related to one doesn’t know you mean squat about being a cop. If everyone was to apply the broad sweeping logic applied here, everyone would think gun owners are anti-gov, paranoid, conspiracy theorists. I’m a happy gun owner, not a cop, but in the military and I can tell you this…no one in the military gives a sh*t about taking private guns away…never even discussed, so let that soak in to all you Hunter Thompsons. In closing, I hope all of you can pass the upcoming mental health screenings to purchase firearms….but I’m going to guess probably not…cool story about the NRA camp though.

  22. How about that red wheel gun, If I owned that thing, I would have gotten rid of it a long time ago!

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