June 27, 2013
A political slap-fight broke out in Seattle between the city's mayor and its leading anti-gun group in the wake of a botched buyback effort in January.
Washington CeaseFire President Ralph Fascitelli was miffed that Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn didn't solicit his opinion before announcing — with great fanfare — the gun collection effort. Fascitelli raised pretty much every objection raised here and in any other gun publication or website. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer obtained emails between CeaseFire and the mayor's office that included the following complaint by Fascitelli:
"I wish you guys would have talked to us/CeaseFire about this before moving forward. The overwhelming research shows that buybacks generally don't work well and are a waste of resources and are mocked by the NRA. We will be lucky to get a few thousand or more guns back, many of which don't work too well in a country where there are almost 2 million guns."
I'm sure he meant "county," not "country," but he certainly is right about the mocking part. What he was wrong about was the "few thousand" part. The buyback brought in a total of 716 guns at a cost of $67,000 worth of gift cards, and about $23,000 of police overtime.
For those of you keeping score at home, that's about $142 per gun, and to go by press photos of the event, the guns brought in were the usual chain-store shotguns and .22-caliber rifles these events scoop up.
Worse for McGinn, the event became a public relations fiasco when enterprising gun buyers set up around its perimeter, offering cold cash for desirable arms. When it comes to a choice between money and gift cards, cash is king.
Just to add to the PR debacle, a much-ballyhooed plan to smelt the turned-in guns into some sort of artwork came up craps too. The guns were hauled off to a steel mill and melted down with other scrap while the mayor was still touting the art plan.
It is interesting to see that even the anti-gunners are starting to see that the main effect of buybacks is to build NRA membership.