"Save the Guns" might sound like a catchy bumper sticker, but it's also the sentiment that led a group of gun enthusiasts to turn up at a Detroit gun buyback event hoping to prevent firearms from being melted down by police.
The buyback, which took place Thursday at St. Cecilia's church on the city's west side, was organized by the Detroit Police Department in cooperation with the Archdiocese of Detroit and the nonprofit group Crime Stoppers. Those who brought in guns could receive cash in exchange, no questions asked. Payments depended on the type and condition of the weapon. An assault weapon, for example, could have brought a seller up to $100.
Rick Ector is a 44-year-old gun rights activist who lives in Detroit and runs a firearm safety training service. When he got wind of the buyback, he put a call out to fellow gun lovers interested in buying firearms and asked them to show up at the event with cash, proper forms, and a large sign advertising their intentions to individuals intending to turn their guns in to police.
"Selling it at a gun buyback isn't really in your best interest," he said, "because you can sell it on the secondary market or take it to a gun shop and get at least two or three times more than what the police department is offering."
Ector told The Huffington Post his purpose for coming out wasn't to purchase a weapon, but to show his opposition to gun buyback programs.
"Gun buybacks are evil and there are a lot of interested citizens out here that believe that gun buybacks are a waste of time -- they're a waste of public resources," he said.
He claims the programs don't reduce crime and said destroying guns deprive citizens of an important means of protecting themselves. Several studies, including a 1994 analysis of a Seattle effort, have failed to find significant links between buybacks and reductions in crime.
The gun rights activist also expressed concern that police were disposing of evidence. DPD officer Michael Martin, however, assured The Huffington Post that police were doing evidence checks to see if any of the weapons had ever been involved in any illegal activities.
By noon police had rounded up about 100 firearms, including 60 handguns and a couple of assault rifles. Several guns were also purchased by the gun enthusiasts.
Alexander Thompson, 22, was working with the church to get guns off the streets. He expressed annoyance at the presence of the activists and collectors.
"They're undermining the thing were trying to do here, the positive thing," he said.
36-year-old Joseph Branch of Madison Heights was glad to have the opportunity to sell a weapon, a pellet gun his son got from a friend. He thought the program was a good way to rid Detroit of guns -- and keep them out of his son's hands too.
"If I don't have one, he not going to have one," he said. "If he does, he's going to be 18 and get one on his own."
Alexander Thompson of St. Cecilia's Church and Kelly Reay-Harris of Crime Stoppers helped out at the Thursday's gun buyback in Detroit.
on March 30, 1981, President Reagan and three others were shot and wounded in an assassination attempt by John Hinckley, Jr. outside the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Reagan's press secretary, Jim Brady, was shot in the head.
The Brady Handgun Violence Act of 1993, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, mandated that federally licensed dealers complete comprehensive background checks on individuals before selling them a gun. The legislation was named for James Brady, who was shot during an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, instituted a ban on 19 kinds of assault weapons, including Uzis and AK-47s. The crime bill also banned the possession of magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. (An exemption was made for weapons and magazines manufactured prior to the ban.)
In 2004, ten years after it first became law, Congress allowed a provision banning possession of magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition to expire through a sunset provision. Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke told HuffPost that the expiration of this provision meant that Rep. Gabby Giffords's alleged shooter was able to fire off 20-plus shots without reloading (under the former law he would have had only ten).
In 2007 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled to allow Dick Heller, a licensed District police officer, to keep a handgun in his home in Washington, D.C. Following that ruling, the defendants petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
Following the deadly shooting at Virginia Tech University, Congress passed legislation to require states provide data on mentally unsound individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, with the aim of halting gun purchases by the mentally ill, and others prohibited from possessing firearms. The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush in January of 2008.
In June of 2008, the United States Supreme Court upheld the verdict of a lower court ruling the D.C. handgun ban unconstitutional in the landmark case District of Columbia v. Heller.
Gun control advocates had high hopes that reform efforts would have increased momentum in the wake of two tragic events that rocked the nation. In January of 2011, Jared Loughner opened fire at an event held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), killing six and injuring 13, including the congresswoman. Resulting attempts to push gun control legislation proved fruitless, with neither proposal even succeeding in gaining a single GOP co-sponsor. More than a year after that shooting, Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was gunned down by George Zimmerman in an event that some believed would bring increased scrutiny on the nation's Stand Your Ground laws. While there has been increasing discussion over the nature of those statutes, lawmakers were quick to concede that they had little faith the event would effectively spur gun control legislation, thanks largely to the National Rifle Association's vast lobbying power. Read more here:
In July of 2012, a heavily armed gunman opened fire on theatergoers attending a midnight premiere of the final film of the latest Batman trilogy, killing 12 and wounding scores more. The suspect, James Eagan Holmes, allegedly carried out the act with a number of handguns, as well as an AR-15 assault rifle with a 100-round drum magazine. Some lawmakers used the incident, which took place in a state with some of the laxest gun control laws, to bring forth legislation designed to place increased regulations on access to such weapons, but many observers, citing previous experience, were hesitant to say that they would be able to overcome the power of the National Rifle Association and Washington gun lobby.
On August 5, 2012, white supremacist Wade Michael Page opened fire on a Sikhs gathered at a temple in Oak Creek, Wis., killing six and wounding four more before turning the gun on himself.