Rantz: Council demands credit for creating a gun program that already exists

Jul 27, 2022, 5:30 PM | Updated: Jul 28, 2022, 6:38 am
(KIRO 7)...
(KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

The King County Council is celebrating new legislation establishing a gun return program that council members pretend will save lives. But the program already exists. It was little more than an exercise in anti-gun performative activism and is the epitome of government waste: taxpayers just spent money funding political grandstanding.

The council passed legislation asking the King County Executive’s office to “assess the feasibility of establishing a year-round voluntary safe firearm and ammunition return program within the King County sheriff’s office.” The study must review ways the program can operate at convenient hours, how the county will destroy the guns or ammo, and present monetary incentives for gun owner participation.

Executive Dow Constantine won’t need to spend much time on a study. You can already safely dispose of your gun with the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) all year. In fact, good luck finding a law enforcement agency anywhere in the state that doesn’t already do this.

King County creating program that already exists

Any gun owner may turn in weapons or ammunition to the KCSO for safe disposal. It does not require a lengthy feasibility study process or some county council-approved program.

“The King County Sheriff’s Office, like many Washington agencies, has established policies and processes to receive unwanted firearms from community members,” a spokesperson for the KCSO tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

This isn’t new. Former sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht tells me throughout her tenure, gun returns were common.

“Anybody, anytime, can turn in a gun to be destroyed,” Johanknecht explained. “There’s a process for doing it. When I was sheriff, it was something that never stopped. We used to take in guns and ammo that wasn’t wanted any more for destruction all the time.”

Johanknecht says you could always either call them or safely bring your weapons into the office for them to be collected and ultimately destroyed.

Both the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office and Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office run the same program.

“If you call us and you have guns you want to return, we’ll come over and take them. It’s been around since at least the late 80s,” Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer tells the Jason Rantz Show.

Your local police department also has similar processes in place. Just call the non-emergency number to your local police department and arrange to bring in what you’d like destroyed.

There is, however, a problem with these programs. They don’t curb gun violence.

Gun buyback or return programs don’t work

King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski wants you to think this program will save lives. In the press release celebrating the unnecessary creation of a duplicate program, Dembowski explained how heroic he is for fighting gun violence.

“I am committed to doing everything I can to reduce gun violence in King County,” Dembowski said. “Reducing the number of guns in circulation will reduce the number of accidents, injuries and deaths caused by guns. And we know from past experience that people welcome the opportunity to turn unwanted guns over to a responsible party for disposal. This program will make that resource available to residents countywide, and I’m hopeful that we can stand it up as soon as possible.”

Again, the resource is already available to all county residents. But, more importantly, gun buyback or return programs don’t actually work.

We’re rarely collecting Glocks and AR-15s. Gun owners almost always return old, rusty, unworkable guns. Johanknecht explained newer guns are rarely turned in. Troyer echoed the observation. Sometimes a resident finds a gun of a deceased relative that hasn’t been used since it was purchased in 1997 and they’ll turn it in. But the guns that are responsible for the violence? They stay on the streets.

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Exploiting tragedy

Referencing the shootings at a Uvalde, TX school and the hate crime shooting in Buffalo, NY, the council’s Democrat majority justified their legislation. The council even recognized the surge of gun violence plaguing the county to claim this legislation will save lives.

Neither of the shootings are related in any way to the legislation. The council merely exploited dead Americans for political gain. And nearly all the gun violence is from criminal behavior, not accidental shootings.

Gang members who are responsible for a considerable chunk of gun violence are not turning in their guns. Though maybe they ought to? The council cited what it calls a successful gun buyback program from Kirkland. But it was all anonymous, making it possible for criminals to turn in weapons/evidence to be destroyed.

Criminals are the ones who benefit

Criminals benefit the most from this program. Not only might they abuse it to dispose of a murder weapon, but it leaves their victims defenseless.

If gun owners do decide to turn in working guns, it’s one less weapon that can be used for self defense. One might wonder why they’d leave themselves more vulnerable at a time when violence is skyrocketing thanks to Democrat policies around policing.

Residents are less safe because of the return and buyback concept. But that might be the point? Democrats, including some on the council, support light-on-crime policies that let routinely seen dangerous criminals released without bail or punishment. Gun enhancement charges? Democrats want to ban them. Drive-by shooter? Democrats tried to pass a law to give them a pass.

And we’re putting taxpayers’ dollars into a study that will come back with results they could have discovered with a call to the KCSO or even a Google search: the program already exists.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3–6 pm on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Council demands credit for creating a gun program that already exists