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Gun buyback: Mayor says "gaggles" of private gun buyers "insane"

Seven hundred and sixteen guns were collected at Saturday’s gun buyback program in Seattle. But officials say they are disturbed by the large number of private gun buyers the event attracted.

Mayor Mike McGinn says he was shocked by what he describes as the “gaggles” of private gun buyers who showed up to tempt people away from the long lines and gift cards and offer them cash for their weapons.

“We had a gun bazaar break out of the streets of Seattle outside of a gun buyback. That was just insane."

Credit Jennifer Wing
Three semi-automatic “street sweeper” shotguns collected on Saturday.

These deals are legal and don’t need any background checks. McGinn says lawyers are looking into whether the city has any authority to prevent private buyers from setting up shop right next to any future buyback events.

Some of the more high-powered weapons collected over the weekend were on full display at a press conference at city call.

There were three semi automatic “street sweeper” shotguns, some high capacity clips and a missile launcher. ?Police took possession of the launch tube Saturday after a man had purchased it for $100 from another person. 

“In fact the missile tube here was something that was sold privately. [Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz] saw it and stepped in and said ‘hold it I’m not even sure this is legal to be in circulation.’ But the rest of these guns are legal to be in circulation."

The city is in touch with Joint Base Lewis-McChord to see if the launcher was stolen. Police said the man agreed to accept a gift card as compensation if the launch tube is not returned to him, though the man indicated he wanted to keep it if he was legally able to do so.

So far out the weapons collected, seven were stolen. Police are checking to see if they were used in any crimes. The city and the county want to hold another buyback event but say they need to raise more money first.

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