Seattle Police officers log guns exchanged for gift cards under Interstate 5 in Seattle during a CIty of Seattle gun buy back program on Saturday, January 26, 2013. The city has collected donations totaling nearly $120,000 to pay for a series of gun buyback events. Participants have been asked to unload and secure their weapons in the trunk of their vehicle or in a locked container. Credit: AP
The Seattle Police Department held its first gun buyback event since the 1990s this weekend, offering people gift cards for their firearms. However, dozens of private buyers showed up in an effort to acquire the guns using the so-called gun show loophole, which allows guns to be sold without a background check.
Hundreds of people showed up Saturday morning to give their rifles and shotguns as well as semi-automatic rifles to police in exchange for gift cards worth $100 and $200 respectively, KING 5 reports. The police planned to destroy the guns and use them as rebar in local construction projects.
Meanwhile, a number of private buyers set up a makeshift gun show-style event and offered cold hard cash for guns and even lured customers with donuts.
“I pay cash, I don’t give Amazon gift cards,” one dealer told a gun seller.
“It’s a historical firearm, I would hate to see it get destroyed. I’ll give you $100 cash for it," another buyer offered a gun owner.
Many held up signs that let gun owners know they would pay cash for unwanted firearms.
"I'd rather see it turned back into the gun community used to promote shooting sports," one man told KING 5.
Private buyer Mason Vranish reportedly purchased a rocket launcher from of a man who had come to exchange it for a gift card, but officers confiscated the weapon on the suspicion that it had been stolen from the U.S. military.
“Their reason was even though it was single time use item it is still military property concern that a soldier had stolen it from the base or whatever and it wasn't theirs to own... so it somehow ended up in the civilian market illegally,” Vranish told KING 5.
Seattle Police Sgt. Paul Gracy carries guns collected from people in a City of Seattle drive-thru gun exchange program under Interstate 5 in Seattle on Saturday, January 26, 2013. The city has collected donations totaling nearly $120,000 to pay for a series of gun buyback events. Participants have been asked to unload and secure their weapons in the trunk of their vehicle or in a locked container. Credit: AP
Seattle Police Chief John Diaz said he would "prefer" gun owners not sell their guns to private buyers at the gun buyback event.
"Some are looking at this as a money making operation," he told KPLU-TV. "But I think that is very few of the people. Most people are here in the spirit of wanting to do something because of some of the tragedies that we’ve seen in our country and in our own city."
The buyback program is funded by donations from Amazon of $30,000, the Seattle Police Foundation of $25,000 and local businesses of more than $118,000. In the first two hours of the event, police say they gave our $35,000 in gift cards for 160 guns.
In a separate gun buyback event, Mercer County officials say more than 2,500 weapons were turned in for cash during a two-day gun buyback program in Trenton, N.J.
The Trenton gun buyback surpassed one in Camden in December that netted more than 1,100 weapons.
Mercer County residents received $25 to $250 for each firearm depending on type, condition and legality.
About $100,000 was budgeted but because of the huge turnout, the amount spent is expected to be well over double that. Some participants were given vouchers after money ran out Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
(H/T: Raw Story)