On a table in the mayor’s conference room, Seattle police displayed some of the high-powered weapons handed over Saturday during the city’s gun buyback. Along with rifles and handguns was a non-working military-style grenade launcher.
Police call the gun buyback an “overwhelming” success, reporting 716 firearms turned in over about three-and-a-half hours, including 348 pistols and 364 rifles. “That’s incredible” gushed deputy police chief Nick Metz.
There were long lines and traffic jams Saturday morning. Metz considers that a symptom of the program’s success. The buyback shut down when lines got too long and then reopened for another half hour or so, until the gift cards ran out.
In total, $68,000 in gift cards were exchanged for the weapons. At least four of the weapons were stolen. Police say they’ll attempt to find their owners. Other weapons turned in will be melted down.
“We were not expecting the level of response that we received on Saturday, and for that I really need to thank the citizens of our region,” said Metz. “They stepped up and made sure that they got their unwanted weapons and unwanted weapon accessories taken out of their homes.”
Metz says among the guns handed in were dozens of assault weapons, one that was homemade. He says police have contacted Joint Base Lewis-McChord to see if the Army wants the military weapon.
While pleased with the public’s response, Mayor Mike McGinn was disturbed by the gun dealers who crashed the buyback event, paying cash on the spot for weapons that some people were planning to turn in.
“You got to see exactly what it means when we say there’s an unregulated gun market in the city of Seattle and it was absolutely, uh, crazy what we saw out there,” said the mayor.
Until the next event is announced, police and the King County Sheriff say you can always turn in an unwanted weapon by calling the cops and arranging a drop-off.
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