Image by Boch
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Do-gooders in Peoria, Illinois were offering $200 per gun in a gun buyback event on Saturday that was scheduled to run from 10:00a to 3:00p. Organizers offered even more for guns they viewed as especially icky at four locations across the city. In promotional materials, they billed it as an event designed to “TAKE BACK OUR STREETS.”

The old expression “if it plays in Peoria” panned out just as one would expect. Scores and more turned out, bringing their scrap iron to trade for perfectly good cash money as the holiday season gets under way. I drove over with three guns to raise some more cash for Guns Save Life‘s support of youth shooting programs.

At the First Baptist Church location, I was the second or third person in line. The first guy nicked them for $2200 at 10:00 sharp. At that point, they pretty much paused the event there at 10:01 as that left them with only had $300 in VISA cards. That’s right: they ran out of cash one minute after starting.

To my relief, police promised more cards were on the way if we wanted to wait 20 minutes. Sure, why not?  I had managed to get fully inside, while outdoors the wind chill felt not far above single digits.

As you probably imagined, if “taking back our streets” was the goal, the event was a total farce.

Image by Boch.

Peoria and vicinity have experienced a rash of shootings and homicides. However the demographic turning in clunkers (and a couple foolishly surrendering decent guns) for cash don’t fit that of your usual gang violence suspect.

In fact, one person arrived in a bus for disabled folks. Last time I checked, very few disabled, gray-haired old ladies are shooting up Peoria. Or anywhere else. Then again, I don’t hang in the places where the bullets fly, so what do I know?

Image by Boch.

The older fellow behind me had a .357 K-frame revolver and about 100-rounds of Winchester white box .38 Specials. Before he went in, he told another man that he didn’t “need” a .357 and worried it would shoot through his apartment and into the one next to it.

The temptation to offer him a couple of hundred bucks for the gun was very strong, but I didn’t want to alienate our hosts. I should’ve offered to take his ammo though.

Gracious and kind hosts and nice cops

The people at the church were the most gracious hosts I’ve ever experienced at a “buyback” event and I’ve probably done at least a dozen or more over the years. They were awesome and kind, doing everything they could to accommodate folks on a very cold and windy day outside.

The Peoria cops were largely super-courteous, bordering on downright friendly. Early on, I pulled one of the plainclothes cops aside and asked him for a favor.

“Sure,” he said.

I mentioned that they had parked illegally out front. At first I could read his facial expression as “mind your own business.” Then I tried again. “You know, it just reflects kind of poorly on your department, that’s all.”

Instantly I could see the wheels turning. He reconsidered and acknowledged my point. He then tried to explain that they were bringing stuff inside. “I know. It’s okay. I watched you. I’m not here to give you a hard time or file a complaint.”

He promptly went out and moved the unmarked Explorer. Kudos to him.

The two cops who worked the event were conscientious and courteous. In a time when getting and retaining good cops is increasingly hard, these guys were a credit to their department and the city of Peoria.

Only the lieutenant running the event, who brought the second batch of $100 cards, was a little less than all of that. How so? He deemed one of my three guns — a giant Lorcin double-stack chrome pistola — “non-functional” and kept it without saying anything, paying me nothing for it.

They handed me a stack of pre-paid cards, saying nothing about the one rejected as a “non-functioning” piece. I didn’t realize until I was outside in the car that they only paid me for two of the three guns. That was, in part, my own fault for a failure to “trust but verify.”  It still felt a little like unlawful conversion… or Illinois’ fancy description of theft.

The same lieutenant tried the “We’ll just keep these, okay” at another location earlier in the morning for a compatriot of mine. My friend assertively demanded back the guns they weren’t paying for. The ones Peoria PD didn’t want to accept, including two functioning .50 caliber muzzle-loaders, were returned. Good on them.

My friend did well. Image via Boch, used with permission

The only other instance I saw involved a woman (on the left in the above shot). She had a SKS rifle, complete with folding bayonet, with some sort of Chinese sight mounted on the receiver.

Lt. Unlawful Conversion adamantly refused to give her the “assault weapon” price because it didn’t have a detachable magazine. I left before that one was resolved, but she surely could have gotten more than $200 for it at most gun shops. Especially since a quick search shows common ones selling for $500 to $1000 sans the sight. Then again, she was wearing a mask so maybe she didn’t know what it was worth.

And the good lieutenant might not have had $500 in cards to give her, as just before they asked for my “guns” they said they were about out of cards…a second time. They said that when they ran out of cards the second time, they would take anything that people wanted to surrender without compensation. Good luck with that.

On the whole, grabbing another $400 for youth shooting programs made it a morning well-spent and worth the $29.08 in gas. Yeah, they nicked us for a gun but honestly, we’ve slipped a few non-guns under the wire at Chicago’s events often enough in years past (shh! don’t tell anyone) so I’m not going to bark too loudly about it.

Why did we have so few this time? We had just taken our entire stock of clunkers up to Chicago about a month ago. Because of some changes in Illinois law, we’re easing ourselves out of the gun buyback game, so to speak. It’s been fun, but we want to quit while we’re ahead.

Word has it that the City of Peoria has a whole raft of these $100 pre-paid cards left. Given that they expire in April 2023, that suggests they’ll return with another event before then to get rid of the last of the cards. Assuming organizers didn’t relent and break them out for people who showed up at Saturday’s event.

Again, given the demographic of a bunch of old white guy law-abiding gun owners turning in their junk, officials might have decided to send buyback hopefuls home. The do-gooder crowd might have opted to try again later, hoping against hope they might actually get some of the younger crowd to come in next time.

But good luck with that. Pro-tip for them: the last place gang bangers want to hang out is anywhere near five-oh, even if the event is no-questions-asked. Unless, of course, the sponsors of the buyback want to offer real money for gear that actually poses a threat.

If they want to offer $2000 for GLOCKs with switches, they might actually get some high school kids to turn out. Maybe.

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  1. Considering there are over 400 million firearms in the hands of civilians in this Country the limited number that they collect in these buy backs and from whom they are collecting them amounts to total insignificance. The author is correct as these things are nothing more than a dog and pony show.

    • Petty virtue signaling at best so some can ease their conscience into believing they tried to do something.

    • it’s a gun grab, not a buy back. buy back means the buyer was the original owner, which is obviously not the case

    • The real problem is that some folks are selling good guns not having an idea what they are worth. The example the author noted, the SKS with the unusual sight. $200? Good Grief! That’s just twice what I paid for mine back when they were flooding the market and mine didn’t have some unique sight although one had a very nice cruciform bayonet of some good quality steel. And the S&W .357 the gent was turning in with a box of .38 sp. What is .38 sp. going for these days, $40 a box? Unless it was a shot out piece of rusty junk which I highly doubt because that was probably the original box of ammo he bought when he bought the gun. Wow. I probably would have offered him $250 in real cash not cards if I were in the holiday mood. Yeah, yea, I know, Ebenezer Scrouge was my uncle. It runs in the family.

  2. Bet that Lt added to his home collection.
    Or maybe the unpaid ones go right to the gangs.
    Just sayin’….unless they destroy them in front of you … no way of knowing what actually happens to them…

    • I think they ship them to You Crane who then ships them to North Korea who then melts them down and makes ICBM’s out of them.

  3. I assume that whenever a community runs a gun-buyback, there is a corresponding reduction in crimes committed using guns. Correct?

  4. “and kept it without saying anything, paying me nothing for it.”

    outright theft and confiscation….

    you just experienced unconstitutional and illegal gun confiscation

    • I’m a little puzzled as to why you thought you somehow owed them something cause you had participated in gun buy backs before, owed something enough to let a government (city) agency blantly comitt an illegal and unconstitutional act and confiscate your firearm personal property.

      did I miss something? the deal was money/gift cards for guns but he very blantly in your narrative just took it without giving you that, without warrant.

      • I suspect he’s playing a long game here, 40 cal.

        “…you never count your money when you’re sitting at the table…”

        If he went off on the Lt., he would more likely be remembered at the next go around. Yes, it’s not 100%, but it’s still a net win, and maybe the Lt. will get his comeuppance some day. Meanwhile, Boch is still a gray man visiting pawn shops and raising cash for a good cause…

        Written from the perspective of a recovering pharisee.

  5. Morons.

    If they wanted rid of crap guns, they could have sold them for parts, the guns would have been disassembled and then sold off for their component parts, and they could have gotten as much more more for the effort.

    But no, they wanted the social approval of turning them into the police, who are operating illegally here, because they don’t have a FFL, and these guns aren’t involved in any crime, so they’re not being seized as evidence. The police are operating as a firearms dealer, handing out money for guns, and that requires a FFL, and federal and state licensing.

    This is yet another case of the police pretending that the law doesn’t apply to them.

  6. “He deemed one of my three guns — a giant Lorcin double-stack chrome pistola — “non-functional” and kept it without saying anything, paying me nothing for it.”

    And, he just acquired a ‘throw-down’ for himself or one of his buddy-cops.

    I would have raised a stink about it. If he didn’t return it to me, I would have insisted on reporting a firearm theft to his boss… 🙁

  7. It’s not a buyback since the government or church never owned these guns. Better names would be “Gun Manufacturers’ Stimulus Program” or “Cash For Clunkers.”

  8. Would love to see some hard information on how many street thugs, gangsta’s or bangers show up and turn over functioning firearms on these buy off programs. And how many cops pick over anything of actual value for personal use or sale for actual value.
    Next thing is how many working, unregistered, or difficult to trace firearms become throwdown pieces for some less honorable cops.

  9. The whole gun buy back thing premise is bogus to begin with. Its purely optics and nothing else, wasting tax payer money. The term its self is bogus because you can’t buy back something you never owned to begin with. Some jurisdictions have (basically) ‘outlawed’ gun buy backs because an in-depth reading of the law says they are illegal.

    Numerous independent peer reviewed and verified studies since 2008 have confirmed gun buy backs do not reduce crime or suicides and may have an effect of increasing crime and there was no evidence that gun buy back significantly reduced violent or non-violent crime in either the short-run or longer-run. In fact such studies have found there to be an increase almost immediately after a gun buy back is completed in the short run of firearm-involved robberies, weapons law violations (criminals in possession), drug violations, vandalism, and kidnapping.

    ~30% of guns taken in through gun buy backs in 2021 were found to be circulating among criminal elements and being used in crimes within two weeks after the buy back. These were called ‘ghost guns’ in various crime reports and media and by politicians and law enforcement.

  10. Hey, I love gun buybacks. If I own a broken gun, I’ll happily make use of their “recycling program”.

    • look at the stupid comment in that article link… this one at the end

      “Some of these people had firearms they’d had for years, but they’re afraid if someone breaks into their house and steals them, they’ll use them against them or police officers,’ adds Chiola.”

      if someone breaks into your house there is a ~91% chance they will try to harm you, and likely succeed unless they are stopped definitively.

      a person using a firearm for defense against a criminal is 94% less likely to be harmed by the criminal, and has a 6% or less risk of harm if the firearm is employed early in the encounter.

      a person without a firearm complying with or resisting by other means or trying to escape the criminal is 80%-85% more likely to be harmed, and has an 80% risk of harm.

      and they gave away their firearm.

      this is not 30 years ago. the things that were up to that time are no longer. today’s criminals will harm if they get the chance and want to. And these people gave away their gun worried about a bad guy breaking in.

      but hey, those police they ‘protected by giving their guns away … yeah… they are not going to be there in time to stop that criminal who broke into your home.

  11. “Only the lieutenant running the event, who brought the second batch of $100 cards, was a little less than all of that. How so? He deemed one of my three guns — a giant Lorcin double-stack chrome pistola — “non-functional” *and kept it without saying anything, paying me nothing for it.* ”

    In NC we call that firearm theft.
    FWIW we all know any of the guns “bought back” that were functional and of any real monetary and/or historical value, were all taken home by those “nice policemen”….

  12. That K frame would have been a 19 or 66. I would have offered $400 for it. These programs are jokes. Nothing more. And I agree with Dyseptic Gunsmith, this sounds like someone(s) are operating as an FFL without a license. The legality of these ‘buy back’ programs, especially in states with mandatory background checks sounds dubious at a minimum. And since we are talking about multiple firearms purchases by one group (who are not FFL’s) shouldn’t the ATF or FBI be involved at a minimum?

  13. The real travesty this type of thing demonstrates is the lack of common sense that is so prevalent in government decisions/programs today. ¿Who, with a 130 connecting brain cells, would/could think such a program is in the least plausible and or beneficial? There are too many of them; we’re screwed.

  14. These gun buy backs are a disservice to folks who’ve had a firearm stolen. The depicted poster on this article states- No ID, No questions asked. What a wonderful way for a criminal to unload a ‘hot’ (stolen) firearm.

    Now the actual owner of the firearm is deprived of having his/her property returned. I oft wonder if the PD checks the serial numbers against a NCIC database of stolen weapons? I’d rather doubt it.

    Just virtue signaling for a ignorant populace…

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