Firearms

Amazon incentive in Seattle gun buyback program

2013-01-08T20:30:00Z 2013-01-09T19:12:04Z Amazon incentive in Seattle gun buyback programThe Associated Press The Associated Press
January 08, 2013 8:30 pm  • 

SEATTLE — Hoping to do something — anything — in response to mass shootings in Seattle and elsewhere, Seattle police and political leaders on Tuesday announced a new gun buyback program in which people can anonymously turn in their weapons for a shopping gift card worth up to $200.

The effectiveness of such programs has been debated, but they very well might save lives, supporters said, and at worst can't do any harm.

"By taking these measures today, we are certainly preventing senseless tragedies," King County Executive Dow Constantine told a news conference at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Seattle. "How many? That will never be known."

The program was announced on the two-year anniversary of the Tucson, Ariz., shooting that killed six people and left then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords critically injured. It also came a month after a gunman in Newtown, Conn., opened fire in an elementary school, killing 20 children and six adults.

Amazon.com, which has been expanding its headquarters in Seattle, kicked in $30,000 in Amazon gift cards — $100 for each handgun, rifle or shotgun turned in, and $200 for each gun classified as an assault weapon under state law. In an emailed statement, the company said only that it thanked Seattle Mike McGinn for the invitation to participate and that it was happy to do so.

The Seattle Police Foundation donated $25,000, Seattle-based search engine optimization software company SEOmoz gave $10,000 and PEMCO insurance committed $5,000. That money will be used for gift cards from other retail or grocery stores.

By Tuesday afternoon, additional donors had come forward, with entrepreneur Nick Hanauer and his wife giving $25,000 and the University of Washington Medical Center pledging $10,000. That brought the total for the program to $108,000, the mayor's office said.

The first buyback is scheduled for Jan. 26 under Interstate 5 between Cherry and James streets downtown. Additional dates are expected to be announced later. Unless they have historical value, the guns will be melted down and recycled.

Participants need not worry about being arrested, officials said. Police won't take photos or record license plates. They will run serial numbers to see if the weapons have been stolen; if so, ballistics tests will be performed and officers will try to return the weapons to their legal owners. Otherwise, no ballistics tests will be conducted, said Seattle Police Deputy Chief Nick Metz.

"This isn't a trick, and this isn't a sting. Whether you're turning an anti-tank missile launcher you 'found' in your basement, or your Gammie's old .45, the buyback is anonymous with no questions asked," the police department said in a statement.

Seattle had 27 homicides last year, relatively low for a city its size — but 23 of them were in the first five months, including the fatal shooting of four people at Cafe Racer and another in a carjacking by Ian Stawicki on May 30.

Seattle last tried a gun buyback in 1992, when 1,172 firearms were relinquished, said former Mayor Norm Rice, who is joining former mayors Greg Nickels, Charles Royer and Wes Uhlman as co-chairmen of the new Gun Safety Initiative.

A similar gun-buyback program in Los Angeles last month netted more than 2,000 weapons, including 901 handguns and two rocket launchers.

McGinn and Constantine said the buyback program isn't designed as a panacea but as one tool to reduce gun violence. If a single shooting never materializes because of it, the effort will have been worth it, they said.

But Dave Workman, senior editor at The Gun Mag, a publication of the Second Amendment Foundation, described such programs as political theater that doesn't make anyone safer.

He pointed to a 2004 study by the National Research Council. It questioned the effectiveness of such programs, saying the weapons typically turned in are those least likely to be used in criminal activities, guns are so readily available that the programs have little practical effect, and with tens of millions of handguns in circulation in the U.S., the odds any particular weapon will be used in a crime are minuscule.

"We've had a history of these gun buybacks around the country, and they really haven't done anything," Workman said.

Metz argued that getting unwanted guns out of the community is a laudable goal: It means they won't be involved in an accidental shooting or stolen and used in a crime.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. liv4fun
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    liv4fun - January 09, 2013 6:28 am
    How is this going to save lives? Anyone that is ever planning on killing people will not turn in their guns. It will only disarm honest people. Do they really think that a mentally ill person with evil intentions will say "Gee, I think $200 is worth turning in my gun and not going on my suicidal shooting rampage". If they want to ban guns, they need to ban them from movies, games, music, and every other part of our society that promotes killing people with them.
  2. Horatio Bunce
    Report Abuse
    Horatio Bunce - January 09, 2013 12:04 pm
    Buybacks do not work. If I was planning on getting rid of an old gun, I would compare the market or trade in value against the buyback value and do the obvious.
  3. Boogs
    Report Abuse
    Boogs - January 09, 2013 12:48 pm
    The govt wants your guns because when society crumbles, they want to escort citizens into FEMA camps unabated. Internment camps have been set up all over the US to imprison the very sheeple they are taking the guns from.
    When they took the 4th Amendment, I was quiet because I didn't deal drugs.
    When they took the 6th Amendment, I was quiet because I am innocent.
    When they took the 2nd Amendment, I was quiet because I don't own a gun.
    Now they have taken the 1st Amendment, and I can only be quiet.
  4. WildBillGT
    Report Abuse
    WildBillGT - January 09, 2013 6:19 pm
    I wonder if I would get arrested for going there and buying guns for $201.00? If they save one live, I get so tired of that, what if two lives were saved if they had kept their guns? what if congress actualy knew how to balance a budget?? pure utopia....
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