Monday, October 24, 2011

Another Successful Gun Turn-In

One of the goals of the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation is to sponsor gun turn-ins, where members of the public can bring unwanted firearms to be disposed of voluntarily, no questions asked, and redeem the guns for $50 gift certificates to Fred Meyer grocery and department store.  These are gun owners who, for whatever reason, no longer feel safe having a gun in their home.  Older people who can no longer safely use their weapons, or whose spouses died and they don't feel comfortable using them.  People who have family members who are depressed or violent.  New parents with children.  People with guns that are no longer in good shape.  Or simply people who need that little bit of cash to get by.  Whatever the case, they can hand over their guns for gift certificates and the police department will take possession of the guns and destroy them, all without adding to the flood of weapons in our community.

Last weekend was the second gun turn-in this year in Portland, with forty guns handed over (We collected 13 rifles, 6 shotguns, 21 handguns, 3 pellet guns, and some ammo).  We were happy to have cooperation and funding from the city (Thank you, Mayor Adams!) and the Portland Police Department.  Combined with the last two turn-ins in December 2010 and April 2011, that comes to over 400 guns.  Over the last 16 years of gun turn-ins, 7,564 firearms have been removed from our streets and homes!

HERE is a link to an article in the Oregonian newspaper on this week's turn-in event.

Portland Police Officer James Escobar (right) and Reserve Officer John Kirby (center) process two rifles and two handguns turned over Saturday to Ceasefire Oregon, while Cadet Daniel Nguyen begins the paperwork. The owner of the four guns said he no longer felt comfortable having them in his house since becoming a father. 

One of the patrons at this week's event, Ken Pyburn, turned in a couple .22's to pay for his Thanksgiving turkey.  From the article:

The Portland resident also is not opposed to guns. Rather, as far as he's concerned, the .22-caliber handgun and a .22 rifle he donated are too small to be of much use.

"I'm an old Army guy, a military policeman," he said. "Believe me, I know what it takes in a self-defense situation."

But Pyburn has no use for the powerful National Rifle Association and its anti-gun control agenda. "I'm not anti-gun, but I am anti-NRA," he said. "There's no practical way to keep guns off the street without a national registration system."

(It's interesting to note that on the same page where this article was printed in the Oregonian were news briefs on shootings that had taken place the day before:  a deadly hunting accident (where a man mistook a hiker for a bear), a gang shooting, a bus stop shooting, and a suicide by gun.  There were a total of three gang shootings this past weekend in Portland.  A few days before, there was also a man with a conceal carry permit brandishing a gun against protestors at the Occupy Portland gathering.)

Of course, like all the gun turn-ins, there are the pro-gun extremists who turn out at the entrance to the event to hassle anyone who attends, hollering at people who come to turn in their guns, offering to pay big money for their weapons.  Some convince the patrons to sell them their guns.  But the real reason the extremists are there, of course, is just to protest our attempts to remove weapons from the streets and from those who might abuse them.  These are the people who want more guns for more people in more places, at any cost, and fight to remove commonsense controls.  Their answer to gun violence is to add more guns to our community and oppose any measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, children, or the dangerously mentally ill.

Like myself and many who work to reduce gun-related violence, our organizers understand the value of removing guns from homes where they can be abused.  Consider the facts:

  • Keeping a firearm in the home increases the risk of suicide by a factor of 3 to 5 and increases the risk of suicide with a firearm by a factor of 17 (Kellermann, 1992, p. 467;  Wiebe, p. 771).
  • Keeping a firearm in the home increases the risk of homicide by a factor of 3 (Kellermann, 1993, p. 1084).

Again from the Oregonian article

Back at the Ceasefire Oregon collection point, organizer Liz Julee expressed a much different sentiment. The native of western Kentucky said she's lost five family members over the years to gun violence. Four uncles and cousins were shot in various disputes, domestic squabbles or hunting accidents. Her clinically depressed mother used one of the family's hunting rifles to commit suicide.

"Her name was Helen Bridges, she was 48," Julee said. "I do this work in her honor."

If you have a gun in your home that you need to discard, you don't have to wait until the next gun turn-in.  Most police departments will take them, free of charge (but without giving you a gift card, of course), and most of those departments destroy those weapons. 

Sources for statistics:

Harvard School of Public Health: Harvard Injury Control Research Center. Homicide – Suicide – Accidents – Children and Women, Boston: Harvard School of Public Health, 2009,

Kellermann, Arthur L. et al., “Suicide in the Home in Relation to Gun Ownership,” New England Journal of Medicine, 327(7) (1992): 467-472.

Kellermann, Arthur L. MD, MPH, et al., “Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home,” New England Journal of Medicine, 329(15) (1993): 1084-1091.

Wiebe, Douglas J. PhD. “Homicide and Suicide Risks Associated With Firearms in the Home: A National Case-Control Study,” Annals of Emergency Medicine 41 (2003): 771-82.


  1. Thank you for this article. It's hard to believe that the gun rights extremists show up to hassle people who have made a choice not to have a gun around anymore. These folks just can't believe that others do not operate on the same set of values they do. Do they know how ridiculous they look? They are the minority but they sure do make a lot of noise for a small group .

  2. With our current lack of information on the source of these guns, is irresponsible to have a 'no questions asked' turn in, where criminals can safely dispose of evidence. It is also wrong for the government to act as a fence, buying stolen property with no effort to return it to its rightful owners.

    We also don't have data that I am aware of showing the effectiveness of turn ins in violence prevention--so we are using public resources as a propaganda tool of a particular political agenda.

    I'm not familiar with all of Kellerman's studies, but the ones I have looked at were obviously crafted to come to a particular conclusion rather than to find the truth--particularly in not correcting for criminal activity.

  3. Thank you, Japete. Yes, they get very obnoxious. We have to have a police presence, not only to take possession of the weapons, but to keep the gun guys from coming in and getting in everyone's faces.

  4. Sevesteen, the purpose is to get guns off the streets and away from those who would misuse them. What does it matter if we get it away from the criminals? This way they won't use them in further crimes. Would you rather they sell them to other criminals? The police then check the guns to see if they are reported stolen. If so, they are returned to the owners. Do you consider this a bad thing?

    I would like to have data. Unfortunately, there's no good way to gauge the impact of turn-ins, since there are so many guns out there compared to few we get. All we have are the feedback from those who turn them in, who occasionally comment about their circumstances (see the first paragraph in my post). I trust their opinions when they say they don't feel safe anymore with guns in the home. It's not a "propaganda tool". There is some funding from the Mayor's office for the most recent turn-ins, to help offset the cost of the gift certificates, but most of the funding comes from public donations to Ceasefire Oregon.

    Yes, I'm aware of the criticisms you guys have for Kellerman's studies, such as the typical argument that certain categories of shootings shouldn't be counted, such as suicides, homicides, or law enforcement shootings, which is ridiculous to argue, in my opinion, since all were involving home ownership of guns (the purpose of these studies), or criticisms leveled against the sample size (studies that are at a national level, you guys argue it isn't local enough or doesn't look at the psychological causes of the crimes, and studies that are regional or local, you guys argue the sample size is too small or picked out of the "wrong" neighborhoods. There's no satisfying your mindset, in that regard).

  5. I'll be happy to help anyone who doesn't want a gun anymore. Sell it to me. That way, the gun goes to a responsible owner, and a beautiful piece of machinery isn't destroyed.

    By the way, your quote of the month has an error. A .12 gauge shotgun would be impossible for anyone to hold, since it would fire an 8 1/3 pound ball. Please remove the decimal point or put [sic] after it, if the error was Clinton's.

  6. @ Greg: Spoken like a true gun extremist. You consider a gun beautiful simply because it's a gun. To me it is just a killing machine, and there's nothing beautiful about that, no matter how well it is crafted.

    I hadn't caught the error. Thank you. According to Clinton's public papers, it is written as ".12", but he had delivered the statement orally, so it is probably a transcription error. I'll change it.

  7. But why do you insist that I'm an extremist? Part of my enjoyment of firearms is in regard to their design. They are ingenious mechanisms. That's not my only reason for liking guns, of course, but I see a well-made firearm with the same eyes that a car enthusiast would look at a Porsche.

    Please explain how I'm an extremist. I own guns. I enjoy target practice. I have a carry license, and I carry a handgun wherever it's legal to do so. I have no wish to harm anyone, nor have I done so. I do not want my rights taken away because others disagree with me.

    Extremist is a label that stops the discussion. Can't you use a neutral word? I'm willing to adopt a neutral word for your side as well. As things stand, neither side is willing to listen to the other.

  8. Okay, Greg. But I can't think of a term that better sums up your fringe passion for guns.

    How about "guy-who-really-really-loves-guns-enough-to-think-they-are-all-works-of-art-and-carries-them-everywhere-he-possibly-can-and-will-gladly-purchase-them-from-strangers-rather-than-have-them-destroyed."

    It doesn't really roll off my tongue, but at least it's neutral.

  9. Most gun turn-in programs that I've heard of don't attempt to return stolen guns--do you have a source that this one does?

    If you look logically at what guns will be turned in--they will be low-value or broken (pictures of 'successful' turn in programs support this) and not the ones that violent criminals are using. You may occasionally get a gun turned in that would have been stolen--but you will also occasionally get a gun stolen specifically to turn in, or guns turned in to dispose of evidence.

    Without at least some evidence that these programs reduce crime, public money should not be spent on them, including the paychecks of the police.

    Kellerman is so biased he isn't even controversial. Anyone with the tiniest background in statistics can immediately see the problems with his data. Whether or not suicide counts is the least of the problems with his data.

  10. Sevesteen, I know from the organizers of the event that firearms are returned if they are found to have been reported stolen.

    Yes, many guns are low value or broken, but not all. I don't have a listing of the types turned in, but many of them are higher-caliber or in fine condition. I'll ask the organizers how many have been returned to owners or known to have been stolen.

    I don't agree with your premise that lack of data makes it a bad program. The fact that many of the gun owners themselves felt uncomfortable with their weapons or that it was too dangerous to keep them is proof enough to me that the danger was there and was therefore avoided. The government's main goal is the welfare of the people. This isn't a waste of that tiny fraction of my tax money.

    Gun guys love to dis Kellerman and question his statistics, but I'm very familiar with statistical analysis and found no problem after reading them. Also, these aren't fly-by-night publications he is published in; these are internationally-respected medical journals which very carefully peer-review submissions and have strict guidelines. The pro-gun side has nothing comparable to compare against them. Did you actually read the articles, or are you only repeating the pro-gun propaganda?

  11. "But I can't think of a term that better sums up your fringe passion for guns."

    The most accurate definition is "advocate of responsible laws".

    All they want are laws to prevent criminal misuse of guns that do not in any way stop the honest gun owners from owning or using the exact same guns. These are truthfully referred to as responsible laws.

  12. Great, Guy! Me too! So what new laws would you support to keep guns out of the hands of criminals?

    1. You can't keep guns out of criminals hands, they don't follow laws!!!!!

  13. Actually, Kyle and Guy, you can keep guns out of criminal hands. One way to do this is to strengthen background checks, with better state funding and stronger emphasis on updates, particularly with mental health and drug cases.

    The next thing you can do is to require a background check for ALL gun sales, including private sales. This will finally force criminals to get a knowing accomplice to buy a gun, which will force up the black market prices and make it harder for them if they don't already have a straw purchaser.

    Finally, mandated safe storage of guns (locking them up) will make it harder for criminals to steal guns.

    Nothing can stop guns from getting into criminal hands in all cases, but these legislative changes will substantially decrease their availability.