Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Seattle gun buyback event attracts private buyers

Seattle’s first effort in 20 years to give people money for turning in guns was so popular on Saturday it ran out of gift cards and had to end early. But even if you were one of the people who didn’t get there early enough, there were lots of opportunities outside the event to get money for your weapons.

Dozens of private buyers stood on the sidewalk under I-5 between First Hill and downtown offering stacks of cash for guns before the weapons are handed over to the police and melted down. One man who refused to give his name hoped something rare and valuable would turn up and that he could get his hands on it first.

“Like what happened back east a couple of weeks ago that turned a 15-thousand dollar fire arm in for destruction. That would get someone like me very interested in maybe finding something like that. ”

Private gun sales are legal in Washington State. No background checks are required. Still, Seattle Police Chief John Diaz wished this business happened somewhere else.

“I would prefer that they would not sell them. Some are looking at this as a money making operation. But I think that is very few of the people. Most people are here in the spirit of wanting to do something because of some of the tragedies that we’ve seen in our country and in our own city."

Three 12 gage shotguns known as “street sweepers” did make it past the buyers and were collected by police. So was a metal tube from a missile launcher. Chief Diaz says he plans to organize more gun buyback programs and will try to make them more efficient so people don’t have to wait for hours to get through.

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.