716 guns netted at Seattle ‘buyback,’ report city, county leaders

(SPD deputy chief Nick Metz with the mayor; photo by Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times, republished with permission)
Just in – results announced from last Saturday’s first-in-20-years Seattle gun “buyback” event:

Saturday’s gun buyback event collected 716 guns in less than four hours, and handed out $68,000 in gift cards. Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle-King County Public Health Director Dr. David Fleming, and Deputy Chief Nick Metz of the Seattle Police Department briefed members of the media this morning on the results of the gun buyback operation.

The news release continues after the jump, including the sponsor/partner shoutouts (West Seattle’s Nucor Steel and Skylark Café/Club owner Jessie SK among them), and what’s next:

“There was clearly a lot of pent-up demand for a gun buyback. I’m pleased that so many people were able to safely dispose of unwanted guns,” said McGinn. “This would not have been possible without our donors and sponsors and the hard work of the Seattle Police Department. We will be working together to plan another gun buyback event soon, and I encourage donors to step up and help us meet public demand. Imagine how many more people we can help dispose of an unwanted gun.”

“Hundreds of homes in King County are safer today, with these unwanted guns out of the house,” said Executive Constantine. “The turnout shows the demand is there, and I thank all those who donated funds to provide the financial incentive.”

“The response to Saturday’s gun-buy-back program indicates that public awareness and public will are building to prevent gun violence and promote gun safety,” said Dr. Fleming. “These are public health issues and our local, state and federal governments can take actions to make our neighborhoods and residents safer. A public health approach to gun violence could help change the fact that Americans are victims of gun violence more than people in any developed country in the world.”

“This event provided a safe place for citizens to turn in guns they no longer want,” said King County Sheriff John Urquhart. “It is a much better choice to remove an unwanted gun from a home rather than leave it where it can be stolen and used in a crime.”

The gun buyback operation, held in downtown Seattle near Seattle Police headquarters, collected a total of 716 guns, including 348 pistols and 364 rifles. Among the weapons turned in were three “street sweepers,” shotguns that include a high capacity magazine capable of holding twelve 12-gauge shotgun shells.

Despite the presence of private buyers near the event site, very few members of the public chose to sell their weapons, preferring to participate in the gun buyback event. State law permits private gun sales between Washington State residents without a background check, even though background checks are mandated for retail gun sales.

$68,000 in gift cards were handed out during the event. Rifles, handguns and shotguns were eligible for up to $100 in gift cards, and assault weapons were eligible for up to $200. Several members of the public dropped off unwanted weapons and did not want a gift card in return.

A total of $118,100 was pledged from private donors to fund the event. The Seattle Police Foundation, which acted as the financial coordinator for the event and donated $25,000, had a total of $80,500 available and chose to keep some money in reserve for a future event given the strong public demand for gun buyback opportunities. They will continue to seek more funding, as well as fulfillment of all pledges, to help support the next gun buyback event, which will be held in the coming weeks.

Donors included Amazon ($30,000), Nick and Leslie Hanauer ($25,000), UW Medical Center ($10,000), A Better Seattle, founded by Head Coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks ($10,000), and PEMCO ($5,000). Several members of the Seattle Nightlife and Music Association donated money and distributed fliers at their bars and clubs the evening before the gun buyback event.

A complete list of sponsors:

• A Better Seattle – $10,000
• Amazon – $30,000 in gift cards
• Five Point Café – $500
• Jason Lajuenesse of Big Mario’s – $500
• Jeff Steichen, Batch 206 Distillery – $100
• Nate Miles, Eli Lilly – $1,500
• Neumos – $250
• Nick and Leslie Hanauer – $25,000
• Nucor Steel – in-kind services
• PEMCO – $5,000
• Quentin Ertel of Havana – $250
• Seattle Police Foundation – $25,000
• SEO Moz – $10,000
• UW Medical Center – $10,000

A complete list of partners:

• Associated Recreation Council
• Café Racer
• Jessie Summa-Kusiak of Skylark
• Mount Zion Baptist Church
• Marcus Lalario of 95 Slide, Lil Woody’s, and Alive and Well
• Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
• Seattle Nightlife and Music Association
• Steven Severin, Michael Meckling, Jason Lajuenesse, of Neumos, Moe Bar, Barboza

The last gun buyback in Seattle took place in 1992. Over 1,200 guns were collected over four days.

53 Replies to "716 guns netted at Seattle 'buyback,' report city, county leaders"

  • rick January 28, 2013 (10:49 am)

    Great. Now the “bad guys” now know there are 716 fewer guns that could be used against them. Remember to “hug your thug” while singing “kumbaya” and we’ll all be much safer.

  • jedifarfy January 28, 2013 (11:03 am)

    Rick, no one knows where these guns came from so I find it highly unlikely the idea of “thugs” running the streets will actually occur. I know plenty who still own guns and plenty who do not. As of this morning, not a thing has changed.

  • Vanessa January 28, 2013 (11:18 am)

    it’s all worth it, if it saves one child’s life. How many accidental deaths do we hear about? And the ones who are complaining that this doesn’t help gun violence in any way, what are you doing about it?

  • Realist January 28, 2013 (11:29 am)

    Big waste of money that could be better spent elsewhere.

  • Maggie January 28, 2013 (11:38 am)

    Wow, I had no idea so much money was donated privately so the buyback could happen. Thank you to all the donors!

  • Anne January 28, 2013 (11:41 am)

    This is mostly a “feel good” event that will do nothing to prevent gun violence.That said -I totally agree with Vanessa-if it prevents just 1 accidental shooting of a child-or anyone then it was definitely worth it.

  • CM January 28, 2013 (11:52 am)

    Here’s what I am going to do about it. I’m going to take a class on gun safety, learn to shoot, and buy myself a gun. Having grown up completely unfamiliar with guns, I feel uncomfortable around them. I want to change that and I want my kids to feel comfortable around them and learn how to use them responsibly. Guns are not intrinsically evil. They are tools that can be used for good or evil. If you think the 2nd ammendment is out of date, you are wrong. It was put there by our wise founding fathers for good reason. Disarmament comes before tyranny. Please pay attention to history and try alternative news to find out what is really going on in our country. Think about why China has put pressure on Obama to disarm US citizens since Sandy Hook. I am pretty sure China doesn’t suddenly have a huge concern for our safety. I feel sick when I hear about people gleefully turning in their guns so they can get a gift card and buy a new ipod. Wake up people!

  • alt255 January 28, 2013 (11:56 am)

    Is anyone else sick of children being used as an emotional multiplier for whatever Tragedy-of-the-Week just happened? Is it any *less* awful, unfair, or inhumane when bad things are done by evil people to adults or seniors or animals?

    Think about it.

    [nomex on]

  • rick January 28, 2013 (11:57 am)

    Thank you CM

  • Alki Resident January 28, 2013 (12:31 pm)

    Its funny how there is always money to do one thing or the other in Seattle but theres never enough money to assist nickelsville get out of the cold weather and into housing where they can feel like humans again. How embarrassing and sad.

  • AnotherRealist January 28, 2013 (12:40 pm)

    Thank you CM.

    I agree with Vanessa w/respect to unsecured firearms that are haphazardly laying around. They should be secured or removed from the house. Although I grew up around them/owned many for years, I discharged one in my house by accident last year. It was absolutely terrifying…I am generally very careful. Not that time. You’d better bet I am now.

    On a deeper level, I completely disagree with the principle behind Vanessa’s point. I do not feel that one life (man, woman, or otherwise) is worth a country exchanging a civil liberty for (even in exchange for a tiny bit of security). We need to solve a people problem, not a machinery problem.

    These online debates are really fun to engage in, but they really polarize people. I think that we have a hard time sorting through the huge amount of information given to us constantly, and we should practice screening what we read a little better. What am I doing about the whole ‘issue?’ I’m ***trying to consider both sides of the argument and not speak out without thinking.

  • CM January 28, 2013 (12:49 pm)


    I agree, children are used to manipulate people emotionally. Ironic in a country where abortion is so staunchly defended.

  • B January 28, 2013 (12:53 pm)

    Wait, what? China is putting pressure on Obama to disarm US citizens? Are you f**ing nuts or just reading WND?

    And by way, if the US government does turn tyrannical, it’s because we elected tyrannical leaders and therefor deserve it. And when that day comes, your stupid AR-15 isn’t going to make a lick of difference when the US government has
    A) an army
    B) an air force

    Ask the Branch Davidians how well their little revolt worked out.

  • transplantella January 28, 2013 (1:03 pm)

    Um, is that big thing in the middle a grenade launcher?

  • a January 28, 2013 (1:09 pm)

    CM-guns are tools that can be used for good or evil? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t think of one good thing a gun is used for. Hunting may be a hobby for some but I don’t see hunting as a good thing. Guns can be used to protect your house or your person but if you have to shoot someone I don’t see that as a good thing either. Basically guns are the worst thing ever created and it sucks that they exist. You may disagree but have 5 of your friends die from guns and then tell me how great they are.

  • JP January 28, 2013 (1:10 pm)

    One question I’ve had about this program and the press release really doesn’t answer the question. Were names taken for all guns dropped off? And will each gun be tested against unsolved gun deaths? If not, it would seem that this would be a great dumping ground for someone with a gun they need to get rid of for legal reasons to dump it and be rewarded.

    Would be curious to know the answer.

  • bridge to somewhere January 28, 2013 (1:11 pm)

    I like how pro-gun advocates are like, “there are too many guns out there, so you need more guns to defend yourself against them.” So, advocate for lax gun rules such that there are guns everywhere, and once they are everywhere–including the hands of criminals–say, “we can’t get rid of guns now! they are in the hands of criminals!” Kind of circular.

  • Leslie January 28, 2013 (1:22 pm)

    I think there is room for people on both sides of the gun issue. Those that want to keep and use guns for legal uses go ahead. But to help make guns a little less easy to obtain we should tighten up the sales procedures and require background checks for all gun sales and make registration mandatory.

    The 2nd amendment allows us to have guns but it doesn’t say we can’t require they be registered or that people who want to own guns prove that they are valid owners.

    We allow anyone who can pass a driving test and who is not barred from driving because of some legal infraction to have a car. And every car must be registered. A car is just as dangerous and lethal as a gun, just not as convenient to carry in your pocket.

    We also don’t allow someone with just a regular drivers license to drive a bus or a semi. They need additional background checks and training. The weapons that congress is considering regulating more heavily would be like a semi compared to a car.

    I think owning and using a gun can be treated the same way as owning and using a vehicle and no ones constitutional rights need to get stepped on if they are.

  • dc January 28, 2013 (1:26 pm)

    It’s a “launch tube”. A one-time-use shell for firing Stinger missiles.
    As far as I know it’s illegal for private citizens to own, so it was probably taken from a military base.
    It’s about as dangerous as a sword with no blade.

  • ZippyThePinhead January 28, 2013 (1:51 pm)

    Yes, I am tired of children being used for whatever the tragedy of the week is.

    For everyone that that is in the ‘if it saves one child’s life, it’s worth it’ camp, please look at the CDC statics for child hood injury and death (http://www.cdc.gov/safechild/images/CDC-childhoodinjury.pdf).

    There is a lot more low hanging fruit to save a child’s life before guns come into play.

  • transplantella January 28, 2013 (2:12 pm)

    Look at this “Seattle police worked with Army officials Monday to track down the history of a nonfunctional missile launcher that showed up at a weapons buyback program….A man standing outside the event Saturday bought the military weapon for $100 from another person there….”


  • kg January 28, 2013 (2:14 pm)

    The inert stinger missile tube you see in the photo is something you can pick up in any surplus store nation wide.

    Legal for a private citizen as far as I know in its empty shell/inert state as it is nothing more than a paper weight that cannot be reloaded.

    It’s my understanding we gave the real things to afghani’s fighting against the Soviets in the 1980’s.

  • Diane January 28, 2013 (2:16 pm)

    “had a total of $80,500 available and chose to keep some money in reserve for a future event”
    so why were people who waited in line for hours to turn in their guns for gift cards turned away, event closed early, and told they were out of gift cards?
    will we ever know how many of those people sold their guns for cash to dealers on the street, with no background checks, simply out of frustration when the event closed hours earlier than posted?
    so they had $118, 100 in private donations to buy back guns, on this day, til 3pm, and turned people away before noon, having given out only $68,000 if gift cards?
    why did they only have $80,500 available at day of event? why did they not give out that full amount to people still waiting in line? and where is the other $36,500?

  • vraxvalhalla January 28, 2013 (2:19 pm)

    Sure enough, there will be someone who comes along hyperventilating about Stinger missiles out in the general public’s hands & how airliners are going to be falling from the skies like snowflakes in Alaska.

    It’s an empty (& non reloadable) fiberglass tube. Something somewhat cool to prop up in the corner of an office but nothing to get the vapors over. $25-50 at most surplus stores (when you can find them) & apparently a very good investment as you can now get a couple hundred for them at these asinine gun ‘buy backs’.

  • stephanie January 28, 2013 (2:28 pm)

    That’s great that there are ‘good gun owners’ out there that are responsable but what about the bad people that have guns? If there would be more and more of these programs it would help. Let’s not forget updating the 2nd amendment. Yeah, I know that will piss off you gun lovers. We need less guns not more. Who do we need to protect ourselves from? The bad man? Well if they had less than we would need to protect ourselves a little less.

    I did my part and took in my father’s handgun. One less gun off the street or even from the responsable gun owner.

  • T-Rex January 28, 2013 (2:31 pm)

    CM, I am with you all the way.

    Want to know how messed up this country is? Obama may consider going around our Congress and Senate to make laws against the gun owner, but our existing state and federal laws allow the sexual predators of this country to be handed slaps on the wrist for abusing the children of our country.

    What is wrong with this picture?

  • stephanie January 28, 2013 (2:38 pm)

    To the people who saw we are stupid for using kids in the gun law fights, you apparently don’t care about kids dying from accidental gun deaths or any adult either. Sad that people who love guns and god forbid have their guns taken away doesn’t’ stop to think about just one life lost to a gun death. You are damn right I will use the senseless death of innocent children being shot up to say we don’t need any more guns. Makes me sick that people care more about having all the guns they want while many, many people die in this country from gun violence and I might add more than any other country in the world.

  • rick January 28, 2013 (2:45 pm)

    I could use a rock to “assault” some body so you want to make my rock banned? What a way of thinking.

  • JY January 28, 2013 (3:26 pm)

    Gun owners are like drivers in that they all consider themselves responsible. Obviously it’s not true but it’s human nature. Even those are responsible will, at some point, get depressed, angry, drunk or careless. Hopefully the killing tools they own aren’t used for killing at such a time. Is firing a gun at a target or an animal that important to offset the risk? Anecdotal evidence aside, the odds of a gun actually being used to successfully defend a home are very, very small. The odds of a hand gun keeping a tyrannical government in check are absurdly small. They are like security blankets for those who don’t understand risk assessment.

  • me January 28, 2013 (3:29 pm)

    Best statement so far –

    “If a conservative doesn’t want a gun, he doesn’t buy one. If a liberal doesn’t want a gun, he doesn’t want ANYONE to have one.”

  • toodles January 28, 2013 (3:33 pm)


  • CM January 28, 2013 (3:48 pm)

    Your statements are an example of how we are being manipulated. We will do anything for our precious children and the media, government, whatever you think it is, are using this to pull our emotional strings. I am a mother and I would do anything to protect my kids, and I care about other people’s kids as well. I am not a gun lover. I understand your perspective, because I felt the same way you did, until I started really trying to understand what is going on in our country and started doing some research. History shows that more than one government has disarmed their people before killing large groups of them. Thousands of children have been among those groups. If you 100% trust our government it will be hard to accept the fact that someday, this could actually happen in America. Maybe it never will, and maybe if it does having a gun won’t save me. But I’m going to at least be on the side of the people that are trying. Not to mention, when criminals feel even more comfortable running around as the only one with guns, it’s my responsibility to do what I can to defend my family if need be. Our founding fathers understood that power corrupts. They gave us this 2nd ammendment for a reason, and we need to protect it. It’s a horrible tragedy when accidents happen with guns, or violence is perpetrated with guns. Accidents and evil have always existed and will continue even if we give up all guns. I’m sure you’ve read Ben Franklin’s quote about how if we give up liberty to secure temporary security, we deserve neither. Even if we gave up ALL the guns in America, criminals would still have them. Check out the gun laws in Switzerland. There all citizens are encouraged to have a gun…all men are conscripted to be part of their standing militia for a determined time. Their citizens are trained and encouraged to use guns safely. They have a very low rate of crime with guns. Please consider all of this. I am in no way trying to attack you personally. I have felt the same way as you in the past and I am now seeing the other side.

  • amom January 28, 2013 (4:02 pm)

    There are other ways of protecting yourself besides a gun, you know.

  • West Seattle Hipster January 28, 2013 (4:24 pm)

    I feel great that these weapons were turned in.

    Not all of us are like Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson.

  • ZippyThePinhead January 28, 2013 (4:34 pm)

    ‘Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.’

    Benjamin Franklin

  • B January 28, 2013 (4:38 pm)

    For those trying the ‘history’ argument, no, Hitler did not disarm Germany before coming to power/while in power, unless you were a Jew.

    And no CM, Switzerland does not ENCOURAGE private citizens to have guns. They have a conscript army, and members of the army are allowed to keep their gun at home. It’s not their gun though, it’s the army’s, and as such is closely tracked and accounted for. You also don’t get to keep the gun when you’re done with your service.

  • B January 28, 2013 (4:42 pm)

    Best statement so far –
    “If a conservative doesn’t want a gun, he doesn’t buy one. If a liberal doesn’t want a gun, he doesn’t want ANYONE to have one.”

    And probably the ONLY thing that conservatives leave alone – see a) gay marriage, b) forcing your religion on others, etc

  • CM January 28, 2013 (4:59 pm)


    By “encouraged” I meant that the government sponsors training with rifles, and shooting competitions, as well as subsidizes ammo at ranges. I’m not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. People should do their own research.

  • Morgan Junction Resident January 28, 2013 (5:53 pm)

    Stinger tubes can be reloaded. Thats the whole point of the weapon system on the battlefield. Carry lots of reloads and only one expensive launch system. This particular one is useless because it lacks not only a reload but also the target acquisition pack/trigger system. If you could actually buy one I’m sure the military would permanently disable it in a functional way. Drilled holes or electronics stripped out.

  • B January 28, 2013 (5:54 pm)

    Fair enough. If you look at their gun laws, they’re actually very sensible – but the NRA has fought against those kind of common-sense regulations for decades.

  • BrassyMomma January 28, 2013 (6:08 pm)

    Um – my dad, who was a “Rifle Marksmanship Expert” badge-wearin Marine in Viet Nam would be really, really displeased at how the firearms are being displayed against the table…and even more so at the folks behind the table walking in front of the angle barrels.

    He taught me very rifle is loaded – treat it as such.

  • NM January 28, 2013 (6:30 pm)

    very few assault style weapons on that table of theirs & some of them don’t even qualify using their logic… must have ran short, oh well nice try. If you want to give up your firearm then more power to you. Trade in your $1000.00 firearm for $100-$200 if it makes you feel like you are contributing to the solution. Good for you, it’s a personal choice we can make. I kept mine because it’s a hobby that I enjoy and also share with my friends and family. I even asked my wife the day of if she was interested… nope. So in short 716 mostly decrepit firearms were traded in, a handful of assault style weapons and one inert stinger tube missing its guidance/battery pack system. Sounds like a good haul. Bring on the next one, I will be at the range having fun. BTW paranoid gun nuts can you stop buying up all of the match grade .308 winchester ammunition already?

  • matt January 28, 2013 (6:43 pm)

    So did any stolen guns make it to the buy back? Did any felons bring there illegally owned firearms? Really i would like to know. If you used this i hope it was to get more ammo for your other firearms.

  • onceachef January 28, 2013 (6:55 pm)

    Quoting T-Rex

    “CM, I am with you all the way.

    Want to know how messed up this country is? Obama may consider going around our Congress and Senate to make laws against the gun owner, but our existing state and federal laws allow the sexual predators of this country to be handed slaps on the wrist for abusing the children of our country.

    What is wrong with this picture?”

    What’s wrong with this picture is the way you interpret the attempt to curb gun-related deaths in this country vs. sexual predator laws. You use the old “Obama this, Obama that” argument, which is, at the very least, LAZY…it’s a soundbite from the NRA, which is mainly comprised of gun dealers and makers…the more they are allowed to make, the easier it is to get them, the better for them.
    What if this happened? – we tighten and enhance our laws against sex predators…make the penalties really tough – can we then also make gun laws tougher (it should make sense using your argument)? Things have obviously changed since 1776 – it’s time to change our laws to coincide with modern times. I support the 2nd amendment but let’s start being reasonable – you don’t need an assault weapon or a large ammo clip – if the world comes to the point where were invaded and called to arms, then things can change…but that’s not going to happen. Stop standing on a principle that made sense 200+ years ago but no longer does.

  • Yardvark January 28, 2013 (7:05 pm)

    Thanks to everyone who made the buy back possible and such a success! You all rock.

  • Jeff January 28, 2013 (7:29 pm)

    Onceachef, you are right it should be tougher. For example, in Washington state a juvenile had to be caught with a gun FIVE times before they have any consequences. I can’t think of anyone that would object to making that a first offense leading to time in juvie, but instead everyone wants to attack owners of silly rifles with Red Dawn delusions. They may be ridiculous, but they have next to nothing to do with the violent crime problem in this country.

  • Dave January 28, 2013 (8:47 pm)

    No Jeff but they are the ones squealing the loudest, which influences policy and distorts facts ie. Fox News.

  • WsEd January 28, 2013 (11:28 pm)

    I am not trying to sound pro or anti fun here but has anyone considered that the people selling there guns at this event probably aren’t the ones you need to worry about.

  • G January 28, 2013 (11:38 pm)

    It’s remarkable how quickly the gov’t went from a despised, even facist state in the minds of many, to a benign institution only there for our own good.

  • Hey lady January 29, 2013 (7:04 am)

    Thank you to all involved!

  • onceachef January 29, 2013 (3:21 pm)

    As CSNY sang “paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep”…CM, you might be the most paranoid person in this posting. Our government is going to disarm us and then kill us? You’ve got to be kidding!
    No one in this posting, for or against gun legislation, will ever find the solution here. I will personally vote every chance I get for laws that make sense – background checks, waiting periods, strict licensing, trigger locks and the ban of all assault weapons & large ammo clips. Even with these qualifications, the 2nd Amendment is intact and essentially still viable.

  • mike January 29, 2013 (9:00 pm)

    Gun people are weird and should be ridiculed for fantastical but destructive beliefs. The should be ashamed and people should shame them.

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