Seattle police started turning people away hours before their gun buyback program was supposed to end Saturday.
Hundreds of people lined up in their cars and on foot to trade firearms with “no questions asked” for $100 and $200 dollar gift cards from Target and Amazon. Shortly after noon, the city had gone through a large portion of the $80,000 in gift cards they had on hand, according to Seattle police Det. Carrie McNally.
With the exception of those that come up stolen, the firearms collected Saturday will be melted down.
Det. McNally estimated between 400 and 500 firearms had been collected, including several assault-style rifles and three Street Sweeper shotguns, including one that was new in the box.
“I think just looking at the name, Street Sweeper, says it all,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “That’s not used for hunting deer, so just the fact that these are off the street makes a difference.”
But many turned in firearms that were old or no longer worked.
George Aiton brought a Jennings .22 pistol.
“On the open market I get $20 for it. Here I get $100 for it,” he said.
Another man, who preferred not to use his name, brought two .22 caliber rifles. One was no longer operational.
“I just want to get them out of my garage so my kids quit playing with them,” he said.
Some who came to turn their guns in to police Saturday instead handed them over to private citizens who were waiting nearby.
John Jones held a sign that said “I pay cash.”
“I’m not offering gift cards, I’m offering cash,” he said. “I’m acquiring weapons for my personal collection.”
Jones said what he was doing was not illegal because he has a concealed weapons permit and has undergone appropriate background checks.
“It is legal to do,” said Seattle Police Chief John Diaz. “It’s probably one of the areas that I think needs to be looked at; not that you shouldn’t be able to buy and sell a gun.”
The most unusual weapon that came in Saturday was a rocket launcher once used by the military. Police confiscated the weapon from Mason Vranish, who bought it for $100 from a man waiting in line.
“I just wanted it as a wall piece, kind of a decoration item,” he said.
Police gave Vranish a $200 gift card for the weapon but said they would return it to him if the military doesn’t want it back.