Three times in the past 12 years, the Illinois gun rights group, Guns Save Life (GSL) sold rusty junk to taxpayers and used the proceeds to send young people to NRA gun camp. June 4 , 2018, they did it again.
The Chicago Police Department banned the group from participating in the gun buyback programs. Six years ago, GSL attended Chicago’s annual “Don’t Kill A Dream, Save A Life” gun turn-in event. The organization made over $6,000, but the irony is they used the money to help kids be able to attend a National Rifle Association Gun Camp. The buyback event brought widespread international publicity to the organization. It was also a punch in the eye to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s massive, city-wide gun buyback events.
In fact, the success of GSL, in 2012, ended the program. Chicago spent a million dollars, it did not have, to “buy back” guns it never owned. The mayor and his staff claimed the buybacks “rid the community of unwanted guns.”
June 4, Chicago offered, once again, to “buy back” guns for $100 each. GSL returned with no questions asked. A supervisor refused to buy back all 11 guns at one location, other members were met with more success. They are still opening envelopes of money for kids to go the NRA camp.
Most of the guns surrendered by the organization looked as if they came from the Prohibition era or earlier. There were even guns that did not require a hammer to open the action. The guns looked good but lacked functionality. “While the guns we gave them would not shoot, they would make great stick-up guns. At least until the user stuck up someone with a real gun.” The organization was not able to unload all 60 guns on the city of Chicago, but they did well.
When the event opened at 10 a.m., there was already a line of people waiting. At the same time, Chicago PD attended the event in full force. People from the organization said they felt safe in the marginal neighborhood. Some of the officers wore tac vest labeled “Superintendent’s Office” and one gold star officer sat inside. There was a man there who represented the press, the people from GSL said they avoided him.
GSL said this was the first buyback event where there were officers skilled at handling guns. “In the past, oftentimes the officers looked as skilled at opening various actions as solving a Rubik’s Cube.”
According to the couple from GSL, most of the guns turned in were typically seasoned. “Often the guns had as much rust as their owners had grey hair.” There were some descent guns among the endless number of revolvers. One was a round-butt Smith & Wesson K-frame. It appeared to be in good shape. It was dropped off my a well-to-do looking African-American woman.
A Caucasian couple brought in a bolt-action centerfire rifle that was in good shape, a second bolt gun with a scope that was possibly a rimfire, and a semi-automatic Browning Auto 5. Any of these three guns could have gotten the couple $300 on consignment at any gun shop.
Most of the weapons brought in were rusty .22 rifles, old revolvers, and break-open, single-shot shotguns. Someone brought in a Bersa semi-automatic still in the box. One person arrived with 20 pounds of ammunition along with two handguns.
Sgt. Dickerson stopped the process when he discovered the couple with GSL had 11 guns. The sergeant did not know the couple was with the organization. He pulled the couple outside and said, “This event is for the neighborhood, not outsiders.” The sergeant had no idea who this couple was or where they lived. Was the sergeant saying that white folks were not especially welcome?
The sergeant said he would take two of their guns, but they would have to take the rest back to their car; or they could take them all back home.
The couple received two $100 Visa cards. On the way out, they took a picture of the table where officers worked to identify the make, model, caliber, and serial numbers of the weapons. Sgt. Dickerson called for the couple to follow him.
After they walked outside, the sergeant explained that no photographs were allowed to be taken inside. The GSL member replied, “But this is a public place and a public event. Nobody has a reasonable expectation of privacy here.”
The sergeant shot back, “No, this is a private event and people in there don’t want their pictures taken.” The couple asked about the television cameras and were told they had permission to film the event.
Sgt. Dickerson told the couple, “Look. You cannot come back to one of these ever again. Don’t ever let me catch you coming back again.” The couple wondered if this is what black folks felt like back when cops explained their local Sundown laws to them.
After a pause, the sergeant continued, “If I catch you at one of these events again, you will be turned away.” The man thought to himself, “You mean like last time when I got turned away because I was white?” He tried not to grin when he said, “Yes sir. Am I free to go?” The couple was sent away. The sergeant did not even ask for his name.
After collecting packets of Visa cards from other GSL members, the couple thanked the officers, and they have a special thank you to Mayor Emmanuel.
So, thank you Rahm. We enjoyed transacting business with you and your minions. Better still, Mr. Mayor, you can feel good about helping to educate the next generation of gun owners in the Prairie State.
By Jeanette Smith
Guns Save Life: YES, AGAIN! Guns Save Life Trades Junk for Cash At Chicago’s Saturday Gun Buyback!
Image Courtesy of jackmac34’s Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License