“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.” - William Blake
by Stephen Miller, Editor
- The Capitol Hill Times -
The city wants your guns, but it doesn’t want to know who you are, where you got them or why you’re getting rid of them. Just show up on Jan. 26 at a parking lot under Interstate 5 between Cherry and James Streets, hand over your unwanted firearms and walk away with $100 from Amazon.
“Let us beat our guns into laptops and Kindle Fires,” said Mount Zion Baptist Church Pastor Aaron Williams during a press conference announcing the gun buyback program Tuesday. Joining Williams at Mount Zion Church to promote the program was Mayor McGinn, King County Executive Dow Constantine, as well as former mayors Charles Royer and Norm Rice.
The program is simple, anonymous and, of course, completely voluntary. Several local donors including the Seattle Police Foundation and Amazon have helped to raise $70,000 that will be handed out, one Amazon gift card at a time, to anyone who shows up during a scheduled buyback and turns in a weapon. The program offers $100 for each firearm, and $200 for assault weapons. The Seattle Police officers who accept your gun will not take your photograph, name or signature.
“We want the guns back. Our promise is anonymity,” McGinn said.
The last time Seattle or King County attempted a buyback program was 1992 and officials are hoping this program will be as successful as a recent buyback held in Los Angeles that brought in more than 2,000 guns.
“That’s a real difference,” Constantine said. “Taking guns off the streets is a concrete action we can take now,” he added.
The serial number of each weapon will be checked, said SPD Deputy Chief of Operations Nick Metz, and if a gun is determined to have been stolen, an effort will be made to return it to the owner. Otherwise, the guns will be taken to steel company NuCor where they will be melted down. McGinn mentioned the possibility of “doing something symbolic with the melted metal.”
The city, county, SPD and community group partnership is looking to take some immediate step toward keeping guns out of the hands of potential criminals or innocent children. And though strict anonymity for those who hand over weapons raises concerns about the program being used to destroy evidence, each of Tuesday’s speakers was adamant that one gun off the street or out of a careless home could be one life saved.
“This isn’t going to solve our problems,” but it’s one tool in the toolbox, McGinn said.
There are also doubts as to the effectiveness of a buyback program, one of the biggest being whether the campaign would actually be successful at removing guns from the streets, or just from owners who no longer wanted them.
Former Mayor Royer compared the initiative to pervious public health undertakings such as tobacco and vehicle safety regulations, which over time led to a ban on indoor smoking, official recognition of the dangers of tobacco and decreased number of highway deaths thanks to mandatory car safety features.
The hope, McGinn said, is that this will become a sustainable program. The 1992 initiative burned through its $20,000 in a few weeks and was not continued. Organizers are calling on other donors to help build on the $70,000 made possible, in large part, by Amazon, SPF, SEOmoz, PEMPCO and others.
The first buyback will be held Saturday, Jan. 26, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the parking lot underneath I-5 between Cherry and James Street. SPD will also be offering trigger locks and gun safety materials for those interested in responsibly holding onto their weapons.