As-it-happened coverage: City-county gun-buyback program announced; first event January 26th

January 8, 2013 at 10:09 am | In Safety, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

(Post-event note: We’ve taken down the video window but will add the recorded version once it’s available. Photo above, in the meantime, is from the mayor’s Twitter feed.)

10:09 AM: As reported here last night, the city and county are announcing a new gun-safety initiative this morning, including a “buyback” program. Click above to see live Seattle Channel web-only video of the announcement event, happening at Mount Zion Baptist Church in the Central District, as it happens live; we’ll publish key points here during and after the announcement.

NOTES: “If we can take one gun off the street, and save one life, it will be worth it,” said Mount Zion’s senior pastor Rev. Aaron Williams, opening the event, paraphrasing a Biblical saying by suggesting that guns could be “beaten into laptops.” The mayor, speaking next, noted the 1992 buyback program (mentioned in our preview last night) as the most recent one in Seattle. Details:

-’Monetary incentive … process will be simple and anonymous … bring unloaded gun to dropoff site … police will take possession of the weapon and offer a gift card in return … valued up to $100 for handguns, rifles, shotguns, up to $200 for weapons qualified as assault weapons’

-First event: January 26th, location: Under I-5 between Cherry and James. [Added: 9 am-3 pm] Gift cards will be offered in exchange for guns – up to $100 for most types, up to $200 for “assault weapons.” More dates – “would like to make this a sustainable program,” says the mayor. “We’re looking for more partners.” Amazon is the first to donate gift cards.

-”This is one tool in the toolbox,” says the mayor, who also noted that trigger locks and gun-safety information would be offered at the buyback event(s). Honorary co-chairs include four former mayors; two are there, two not (including West Seattleite Greg Nickels).

10:16 AM: King County Executive Dow Constantine speaking now. “Buyback programs – they get guns off the street,” he begins, noting the recent L.A. program bringing in 2,000. He notes that by law, he is not allowed to enact gun regulations, and adds that “gun violence is a public-health issue” – that includes mental health. He is followed by county Public Health Officer David Fleming, who says dealing with gun violence “on a community-wide basis” is part of his job: “We have to do better.” He says “guns are no different” from other public-health challenges, from tobacco to seat belts.”If you can turn in a gun, do it; if you choose to keep one at home, be sure that it’s stored, unloaded, in a safe location.” He says gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the U.S. and “This is a fixable problem.”

10:21 AM: Seattle Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz talks about having seen the aftermath of countless deaths involving guns. “We’ve seen so many shattered lives,” he says, mentioning accidental shootings involving children outside Seattle as cases in point, moving on to “the intentional shootings … it’s not uncommon to find out that the gun that was used was stolen.” Storing guns safely would mean “that particular gun would not have been used in that situation,” he said, saying that a gun can be “a time bomb waiting to go off,” particularly if there is one in your home or office that you don’t really want. “If we are able to take one unwanted gun out of circulation, we can guarantee that at least one life will not be harmed by that gun … and if we can get a thousand unwanted guns out of circulation, that’s a thousand lives we can guarantee will not be harmed by those guns.” He is followed by Renee Hopkins, the West Seattleite who leads the Seattle Police Foundation, who says SPF is proud to be a founding sponsor of this initiative.

10:29 AM: Former mayors Norm Rice and Charles Royer speak. Royer recalls the public-health campaigns against indoor smoking and unsafe automobiles. “We gotta do this thing, although it’s a small piece of the puzzle,” he says. “…I think we can beat this thing.” After him, Mayor McGinn returns to the podium to answer questions. What will happen to the guns? West Seattle’s Nucor Steel will melt them down (and what happens to that metal/steel hasn’t yet been decided), he says. Will any of the guns “be preserved”? he’s asked. “That is not our intention,” he replied, adding that none will be kept for criminal investigations, and none will be resold.** How much money do they have for this so far? $70,000, and they’re hoping to launch with at least $100,000. (That’s much more than the $20,000 with which the 1992 “$50 for a gun” program started, it was later pointed out.)

10:43 AM: As Q/A continue, Deputy Chief Metz: “Ask yourself how you are going to feel” if you have an unsecured gun in your home, it’s stolen in a burglary, and then you find out it was used in a homicide. “(This can) ensure a gun won’t be used to destroy a life.” Even if a “tiny fraction” of the guns in the city are turned in, that’s still a potential saving of lives, he continues. Meantime, if people want to turn over a gun and don’t care about getting compensation, he adds, you can call police and they’ll come pick it up. **Metz also clarifies something said earlier – the turned-in guns WILL be checked to see if they’re stolen, and if they are, the owners will be contacted.

10:49 AM: The event has just concluded. Last to answer a question was County Executive Constantine, who said, “I reject the cynicism” that he saw in the questions about whether this would do enough to fight crime or violence – anything accomplished, any life potentially saved, is enough, he declared.

11:04 AM: Read the official county news release here. City news release is here.

ADDED 5:31 PM: More donors have come forward, says the mayor’s office in this update – including at least one from West Seattle, Jessie SK of Skylark Café and Club.

32 Comments

  1. Thanks, Dow, for a great closing argument and to the rest of our public and private leaders for renewing the effort to buy back guns that may accidentally or intentionally be used to injure or kill people in our communities. We do not want to be the next community to suffer the kind of tragedy so many other communities have suffered in the past!

    Comment by Ann — 10:53 am January 8, 2013 #

  2. Wait. So if you used a gun to commit a crime, you could turn it in, get a gift card and have it vanish from existence.

    I have to be thinking about that wrong.

    Comment by westcoastdeb — 11:00 am January 8, 2013 #

  3. At those prices someone should set up in a van nearby and offer double in cash. Ridiculous.

    Comment by Jeff — 11:17 am January 8, 2013 #

  4. While I can appreciate the effort, $100 isn’t going to motivate me to turn in a gun that cost 5x+ that amount. AR15s are selling for $1500+ right now used but in working condition, but they’re willing (or more likely able) to offer only $200? That just doesn’t make economic sense. Pay a fair market value and you’d get a decent return, I’d wager.

    Also, since handguns are used in the vast majority of crimes involving guns (and not shotguns or even assault rifles), the bounty for getting a handgun off the street should be even higher.

    What about motivating people to secure their weapons better? Rebates for gun safes or something. The state exempts gun safes from sales tax already, but maybe have retailers discount them further or something in conjunction with the city/county. I recently purchased one after the Connecticut shooting because I know if the gun I own was used in something like that, I’d feel absolutely awful. Responsible ownership (because you will never get people to turn in all their guns, no matter what laws or rewards are offered) should be promoted as well.

    Comment by sven — 11:44 am January 8, 2013 #

  5. They’ll never get my guns..

    Comment by ineedmytwinkiesnow — 12:05 pm January 8, 2013 #

  6. Great idea, but most guns that will be turned in will be junkers, not the type of guns that really need to be off the street.

    Comment by marty — 12:16 pm January 8, 2013 #

  7. If Newtown really is going to be some kind of tipping point, I somehow think that we need more innovative solutions from our government than things we’ve already tried and failed at decades ago. I don’t fault the local media for their cynicism. They likely know political grandstanding when they see it.
    .
    Seattle’s gun buyback program of the early 90′s (and every other buyback program like it) had no measurable effect on gun violence and I expect this effort will be as ineffective for the same reason – because the guns collected by these kinds of programs are not weapons that are likely to be used in crimes. The argument that this is worth doing because any gun off the street is a potential life saved is as specious as saying that pouring a Dixie cup of water on a raging inferno is still somehow contributing to putting out the fire.
    .
    They should try a psychiatric medication buy-back program. I expect it might be more effective at curtailing massacre shootings.

    Comment by cjboffoli — 12:42 pm January 8, 2013 #

  8. Criminals are not turning in any weapons. One might just follow you home knowing that you are now unable to protect your property and family.

    Comment by wildwest — 12:45 pm January 8, 2013 #

  9. It’s defrauding the ignorant at best, and providing easy disposal of evidence at worst, but I don’t believe this makes people any more vulnerable wildwest. They will most likely collect some rusted out crap that people inherited, stashed in the attic, and have no idea what to do with.

    Comment by Jeff — 12:54 pm January 8, 2013 #

  10. How about putting all that money into helping to make sure crazy people that should be on meds, are on them?

    Comment by WS parent — 12:56 pm January 8, 2013 #

  11. “The Seattle Police Department will also be distributing trigger locks for those who wish to secure their firearms safely. These will be available at each of the five precincts during normal business hours.”
    http://www.seattle.gov/news/detail.asp?ID=13331&Dept=48

    Comment by Diane — 1:21 pm January 8, 2013 #

  12. can anyone id woman on the left? I’ve read multiple news reports and no one names all who are standing up front; I’m guessing woman on right is Renee; wondering if other woman is Amy Wales, daughter of Tom Wales (who was brilliant spokesperson for Washington Ceasefire, assassinated in his home on Oct 11, 2001; and from that day forward, til recently, all the gun safety advocates went into hiding; so grateful for renewed conversation, ideas, actions to save lives from guns)
    ~
    yes, this will help; keeps the danger of guns in the limelight; (it’s one small step; no one has claimed it’s the ultimate & only answer); it’s not just about criminals and mentally ill; this will also prevent accidental shootings in homes/cars/anywhere that people with guns carelessly leave them loaded/unlocked; recent cases of children killed in their cars when parents left loaded gun accessible to child; one was an officer; accidental shootings happen everyday in this country, often by children who find guns in their home; kids are curious and do not understand that guns can kill you

    Comment by Diane — 1:52 pm January 8, 2013 #

  13. Amusing at best. I wouldn’t turn in my worst gun and its one that I never shoot and sits in the safe for $100. If they offered $400 I might consider it.

    Comment by Joe — 2:02 pm January 8, 2013 #

  14. This is a “feel good” project that is a waste of time and money.

    Comment by Realist — 2:15 pm January 8, 2013 #

  15. It’s an advertising opportunity. Well done, advertisers. A lot of bang for your buck.

    Comment by Tuesday — 2:22 pm January 8, 2013 #

  16. cjboffoli I like your comments. Gun buy-back programs have never worked. Also there’s the bigger problem of illegal guns. The so called brainiacs that make up Seattle’s city council and the king county executive are incapable of thinking out of the box on the gun issue. Like all good sheep they just follow the leftist rule.

    Comment by Seattlite — 3:21 pm January 8, 2013 #

  17. Diane – I asked Mayor McGinn’s communications person Aaron Pickus. He says she is “Sarah Bird from SEOmoz, one of the financial sponsors of the program.” – TR

    Comment by WSB — 4:52 pm January 8, 2013 #

  18. Opportunistic, egotistical grandstanding. I’m surprised that they can pose for their picture with straight faces.

    Comment by Jim — 5:04 pm January 8, 2013 #

  19. thanks TR

    Comment by Diane — 5:21 pm January 8, 2013 #

  20. And for anybody checking back here, I’m adding another link … many more donors came forward after today’s announcement. Including Skylark Café and Club’s Jessie SK. update from the mayor’s office:
    .
    http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/press/newsdetail.asp?ID=13336

    Comment by WSB — 5:29 pm January 8, 2013 #

  21. Abolish the second amendment.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 5:34 pm January 8, 2013 #

  22. Thanks Dow, our other Leaders, sponsors and partners (special shout out to Jessie of Skylark!).

    This is one avenue to get guns out of people’s hands that may injure/kill someone accidentally…or not so accidentally.

    One possible life saved is priceless!

    Comment by Teri Ensley — 5:42 pm January 8, 2013 #

  23. I will be there. I will pay more in cash, than they’re offering in gift certificates, for any functioning firearm.

    Comment by Chuck Jacobs — 8:13 pm January 8, 2013 #

  24. I respect your honesty of intention west Seattle hipster, much more that someone with the same desire but plans to get there a baby step at a time. The constitution is certainly an amendable document, though truthfully your desired outcome seems unlikely to make it through the process.

    Comment by Jeff — 8:24 pm January 8, 2013 #

  25. I think all of us, including legal gun owners, are horrified by the recent shootings in CT and Colorado etc. However, this gun buyback program is mostly feel good politics and political grandstanding. Read the comments in today’s Seattle Times.

    Comment by phil dirt — 6:17 am January 9, 2013 #

  26. I’m sure people like Dailone Raynell Brooks-Harris and Ja’mari Alexander-Alan Jones will rush down and turn in the firearms that they have.
    This is just another Lib/Dem/Prog, anti-gun, feel good, do nothing measure that does NOTHING to address the REAL issue.
    Want to do something about the gun violence here and in America?
    Then address the REAL issue – illegal gun possession and mental health issues.
    The above two “people” are both teenagers arrested and chargerd with horrific crimes where a handgun was used. In Washingtion it is ILLEGAL for anyone under the age of 21 to possess a handgun.
    Although you DO NOT have to have a permit to “Open Carry” in Washington, you MUST still be above 21.
    More laws WILL DO NOTHING TO CURB GUN VIOLENCE.
    Try enforcing the laws on the books by increasing the sentences for illegal possession, selling, buying and crimes commiitted using an illegal handgun.
    I am 100% in establishing mandatory training prior to the issuing of a CWP or purchase of a handgun and the requirement of using a trigger lock or safe to store the handgun.
    But any laws restricting the ownership of a handgun, or any weapon, will only effect those of us WHO OBEY the law anyway!!!

    Comment by Ex-Westwood Resident — 7:35 am January 9, 2013 #

  27. “Abolish the Second Amendment,” says Seattle Hipster. And while we’re at it, let’s abolish all the rest of the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment. In fact, why stop there. Let’s just abolish the Constitution.

    Comment by phil dirt — 7:35 am January 9, 2013 #

  28. Lets look at the idiotic suggestion of “banning guns” for a second that is SO popular with the anti-gun crowd shall we?

    So number one. Where are you going to get all the people to search EVER residence, cave, hole…every square inch of America to find ALL the guns? Where are you going to start and what Bill of Rights Amendments are you willing to break? Where are you going to get the money to conduct the searches?

    But you can’t stop there. In addition to all the guns, you’ll have to confiscate ANY and ALL tools, equipment, materials used in the manufacture of guns and ammunition.

    Then you’ll have to somehow prevent guns from entering the US from Canada and Mexico and along the coasts. Hell we can’t even stop people from entering illegally, and they are much bigger than a gun.

    Then you’ll have to construct prisons to hold all the law breakers that will arrested once the ban goes into effect.

    Like I said a “ban on guns” is the most stupid, idiotic notion out there!!!

    Comment by Ex-Westwood Resident — 8:02 am January 9, 2013 #

  29. No one that I’ve heard in a position of leadership has ever advocated “banning guns.” As former Mayor Royer stated when confronted by the reporters at this event, no one thought we would change the culture of smoking and yet we have. No more smoking in offices or other public places. Warning labels on packs of cigarettes fought tooth and nail by the tobacco lobby. Regulations can be crafted that protect the rights of all people, including those who may be harmed by weapons such as assault rifles owned and operated by individuals.

    There are other things we need to do, but we should not be diverted from a start. Now, in honor of those whose lives have been sacrificed in the name of the freedom to own military grade weapons, we must stand up and be counted!

    Comment by Ann — 3:10 pm January 9, 2013 #

  30. The Right to Bear Arms made a lot of sense in 1776.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 4:51 pm January 9, 2013 #

  31. Ex-Westwood Resident: just replace “guns” with “drugs” and you can answer your own question.

    Comment by Ajax — 1:45 pm January 10, 2013 #

  32. How about “trade in a criminal for a gun safe”…
    Still at Nucor of course.
    I am a frigging genius.

    Comment by pilsner — 7:59 pm January 10, 2013 #

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