The government doesn’t like competition. It may be perfectly legal (in most jurisdictions) to stand outside a city-sanctioned gun “buy-back” and offer people more money than they’d get inside, but the city employees (read: police officers) who are being paid to man these events sometimes take exception to that kind of behavior.
A south Florida man found that out the hard way. John Gillis had done his homework before the buy-back and what he was told by police must have made dollar signs dance in his eyes.
Gillis, an NRA instructor and avid gun collector, had contacted the police department in advance to ask how much they would pay for 27 AR-15 lower receivers, which is the part of a firearm that provides housing for internal components such as the hammer. He says he was told the department would pay $250 for AR-15s, a type of weapon that has often been used in mass shootings.
The Miami New Times made sure to get that last part in. Also this . . .
Nikolas Cruz used an AR-15 when he murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. An AR-15-style rifle was used to kill 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary, and the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooter used one when he ended the lives of 12 people and injured 58 others.
Anyway . . .
But when Gillis showed up to sell his AR-15 parts, he says, police offered him only $17 for each.
“They refused to take 27 AR-15s off the street as far as I’m concerned,” Gillis told New Times. “The Miami Police Department doesn’t classify this as a firearm. I asked for that in writing, but they wouldn’t give it to me. They had initially promised $250 for the lower receivers, but now they only wanted to pay $17.” Gillis said each receiver was likely worth about $50.
If the cops were only paying $17 for ARs, Gillis figured that was an opportunity.
Gillis wasn’t happy with the cops’ price, so he stuck the “I Buy Guns” sign on his Jeep, offering to pay more than the police for firearms he could add to his collection (he ultimately had no takers). The way he tells it, several cops began to question Gillis, who is white, and his friend, who is black, and frisked the friend but not Gillis when they eventually arrested the pair. He also accuses the police of using a racist slur against his friend.
Gillis was arrested for “contracting without a license,” a charge that was later dropped by the State Attorney for lack of evidence. Gillis says the cops were just harassing him because he was trying to prevent them from “ripping people off.” It certainly seems so.