Sunday, August 19, 2012

Portland Gun Turn-In A Success

One of the key events put on each year by the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation is the gun turn-in event, held once or twice each year.  Anyone can turn in unwanted guns, no questions asked, and receive a gift card in exchange.  Each working gun will be exchanged for a $75 gift certificate to Fred Meyer stores (up to three per person).  Non-working guns and BB/Pellet guns receive a gift certificate to a fast food restaurant.  No questions asked.  Portland Police Department was there to take the weapons, check them for safety, and check their serial numbers.  The guns are then destroyed.

This turn-in, there was a total of 235 weapons:  64 rifles, 44 shotguns, 114 handguns, 10 pellet guns, 1 crossbow, 2 non-working guns.

This is an excellent win-win situation.  People who are unable or unwilling to keep a gun safely will turn them in, making homes and streets safer in the process, and in return are able to get a gift card for food or necessary department store items. 

And who turns in the guns?  Not criminals, most likely.  What criminal would knowingly approach a police officer with a crime gun?  No, these are widows who don't know how to handle their husband's weapon, or new parents who understand that guns in the home are a danger to children, or people who inherited weapons and understand that a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to harm them than to be used to protect them.  Occasionally it is someone with a gun that is defective to the point of being dangerous.  In all these cases, the gun is clearly more of a liability than a blessing.  Gun owners and non-gun owners alike should be glad this is happening.

Lucy Mashia with her three grandchildren at the Portland event
People like Mrs. Lucy Mashia, who is featured in the news video.  Her son, Leonard James Irving, was gunned down last June, leaving behind three small children (also seen in the video).  She knows more than most the danger of guns in the wrong hands in our society.

From the video:
"My son loved life so much and someone just took his life, a bad decision, a five-second decision to pull the trigger," she said. "My heart is going to be heavy for the rest of my life."

Irving was about to turn 35 before he was shot and left for dead in the street. Instead, his three young children are getting older without him.

"I cannot fill the role," Mashia said. "All I can do is be grandma, you know?"

But really, Mashia feels there is more to do and more to say and wants the violence to stop. But being at Saturday's turn-in event is one way she's trying to make a difference and stop the violence. Also there was Portland Police Bureau Sgt. Tim Sessions, who has helped with the event for years. He doesn't know if it will really ever prevent a gang shooting since most of the people at Saturday's event had inherited guns and were unsure what to do with them.
Sessions, however, said the event will prevent both crime and death.

"These are unwanted guns," he said. "People who have unwanted guns usually don't store them or secure them in a way that would prevent theft or even accidents happening within their homes."
The same day, there was a similar gun buy-back in Lansing Michigan, sponsored by the city and its Guns for Groceries program.  Each gun was redeemed for a $100 gift card for food.
Within about 2½ hours, the program bought back nearly 100 guns using roughly $10,000 that had been donated to the effort to reduce crime and shootings in Lansing, Police Chief Teresa Syzmanski said. The city-sponsored program offered a $100 Meijer gift card for every weapon that was turned in Saturday to police on a “no questions asked” basis.
Syzmanski said all the weapons will be destroyed.
“We’ve been burying too many young people in this community. It’s one more tool,” said Mayor Virg Bernero, who visited the event. “Any guns taken off the streets is helpful.”
While Bernero said he doesn’t expect criminals to turn in their guns, he hopes the program will reduce weapon thefts and help keep guns out of the reach of young people. Bernero, who says he is not anti-Second Amendment, said it is the first gun buyback program in the city in many years.
The article gives an example of a man who turned in his long-unused shotgun, out of fear that his 6-year old daughter might find it.

Back in June, there was a gun turn-in in Chicago.  A total of 5,500 guns were handed over in the one-day event!
“I’m quite certain that if you look at some of these heavy weapons we certainly are making a difference here, just by getting these guns off the street,” McCarthy said at a Saturday evening news conference to show off some of the weapons.
The firearms ranged from an M-60 machine gun and sawed-off shotguns to to pen-like “zip” guns that can fire a lethal round. Of the 5,500-plus weapons, about 700 turned out to be BB-guns or replicas, McCarthy said.
During the gun turn-in Saturday, dubbed “Don’t Kill a Dream, Save a Life,” Chicagoans could turn in firearms, no questions asked, at churches to get $100 gift cards for each firearm. BB-guns and replicas were worth $10 cards. Some locations ran out of gift cards and had to give people IOUs.
Of course, the pro-gun extremists come out in force to oppose turn-ins.  Some stand outside the event, heckling those who attend and who volunteers for the event, and trying to buy guns off of anyone trying to turn guns in.

If you read the comments from the Portland turn-in, you'll see the usual statements from them.  One suggested the guns should have been given to children's charities.  Another stated "first the cops turn there guns in then maybe I will think about it myself," as if he needs his guns to fight police.  Another suggested that only criminals would turn in the guns.

Another couple commenters suggested that turning over guns in events like this would allow our tyrannical government to take over.  One wrote:
Of corse they want our guns, they are the only things standing in the way of the total fascism our government seeks.
Another stated,
THIS IS THE BIGGEST COMMIE PLOT EVER DEVISED TO TURN "CITIZENS" INTO "SUBJECTS!!!!!!!!" These morons are not real Americans!!!  They have an obligation to own and carry firearms to keep the peace AND GOVERNMENT from taking over!!!  THEY ALL NEED TO MOVE TO SOME EUROPEAN COMMUNIST COUNTRY!!! This country was not founded on surrendering your firearms.  It just demonstrates how brain dean and lacking critical thinking these excuses for human beings really are.
Lovely.  As if their pea-shooters would pose any resistance to a highly-trained army armed with modern military weapons.  These commenters seem to forget that many countries, such as Canada, England, Australia, and most of Europe, which have far stricter gun regulations (and less than 200 shootings a year, I might add) have somehow nonetheless remained a democracy.  They also seem to forget all those countries which overthrow dictators by peaceful means, without the need for widespread civilian gun ownership (such as India, Egypt, Tunisia, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, Poland....).  But I digress.

Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation and other organizations will continue to sponsor gun turn-ins.  They make sense.  Logical people understand that not everyone should have guns, even if it is their right to do so.  Getting guns out of the wrong hands is the responsible thing to do. 

Mrs. Lucy Mashia had a valuable statement in that first video as she stood there holding her dead son's three children:
"Everybody has a bad day, but if you have a gun, that bad day may turn into your last day."

ADDENDUM (8/19/12): A related news article on the Portland turn-in, illustrating the pro-gun hawkers who offer to buy guns from those turning them in, or profit or "on a principle."

ADDENDUM (8/19/12): Another gun turn-in today, this one in Queens, New York, brought in 509 guns.  From the article:
A total of 509 guns were surrendered at a Queens church on Saturday as part of an effort to clean up street violence in the borough, the NYPD said.
Among the firearms collected in the six-hour buyback event at the New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Jamaica was an AK 47, a TEC-9; and a Calico 9mm with a 50 round magazin, cops said.
Amid a wave of gun violence that plagued the city streets this summer, the NYPD, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and State Sen. Malcolm Smith hosted a gun buyback initiative. People turning in working handguns, rifles or shotguns received $200 bank cards.
Queens resident Catherine Cruz found the initiative a perfect opportunity to give up her .25-caliber automatic handgun she once considered her “security blanket.”
“I have a 5-year-old granddaughter and I don’t want her to find it,” said Cruz, 53, who added that she used to carry the firearm in her purse every day on her bus commute to work for “protection.” But she stopped carrying it when she got a car.
ADDENDUM (8/20/12): Yet another gun turn-in, in Ocala, Florida, brought in 50 weapons.  From the article:
In four hours Saturday, residents turned in 41 functional handguns, one non-working handgun, two pellet rifles, one pellet gun, two shotguns and two rifles at the Ocala Police Department during the Gun Buy Back program, held at OPD headquarters.
Each functional handgun turned in was exchanged for a $50 Walmart gift card, with a limit of two cards per person.
Non-working handguns and long guns were accepted for disposal.