Published July 10, 2012
A pro-gun group claims it flipped the script on Chicago's firearms buyback program by selling old, broken rifles to the city and then using the money to buy guns and ammo for an NRA-sponsored shooting camp for kids.
"Guns Save Life," based in Champaign, Ill., recently sold 60 firearms to the Chicago Police Department -- 10 of which were manufactured before 1898 -- in exchange for $6,240 in gift cards, according to group president John Boch. The sale also included five BB guns and a rickety pump-action shotgun that was held together by duct tape and zip ties, he said.
"They recognized it for the junk it was," Boch said of the sale. "At one of the locations, one of the detectives was very tenacious ... And hit the guys with a flurry of questions like 'Where the hell did you get these, from a graveyard?' "
But the department carried out the transaction anyway, and the organization used the proceeds to fund the youth shooting camp. Boch said the money earned is being used to buy rifles and ammunition for an annual summer camp held at Darnall Gun Works & Ranges in Bloomington, Ill.
"The real delicious irony here is that the city of Chicago is paying for rifles that we're giving away to young people as part of this camp," Boch told FoxNews.com. "The program was intended to get unwanted and unused guns off the street to make the community safer. We provided them unused and unwanted guns."
Unwanted, because "they just didn't work."
Chicago's gun turn-in program, dubbed "Don't Kill a Dream, Save a Life," was implemented with the goal of removing dangerous weapons from the street. The program claims on its website that a "gun in the home is more likely to be used in a homicide, suicide or unintentional shooting than in self-defense." The initiative cites alarming statistics on its website to bolster its argument -- such as the claim that "States with the highest levels of gun ownership have 114 percent higher firearm homicide rates and 60 percent higher homicide rates than states with the lowest gun ownership."
The police department accused Boch's group of "abusing" a program intended to fight Chicago's crime rate.
"The amount of gun violence in Chicago is simply unacceptable and the impact of gun violence is far reaching," the police department said in a statement. "There's a ripple effect following every shooting incident that we all feel. We host the Gun Turn-In event on an annual basis to encourage residents to turn in their guns so that we take firearms off our streets and it's unfortunate that this group is abusing a program intended to increase the safety of our communities.”
But Boch used his group's sale to mock the effectiveness of the city's program, saying, "Just look at the murder rate in Chicago – is it working?"
"There’s a heavy police presence at every one of those turn in locations," he continued. "What criminal is going to submit themselves to that kind of police scrutiny for a couple hundred bucks?"
"Guns Save Life" said it sold its firearms to the city on June 23. For every gun sold, the group received $100 in the form of Visa debit card, Boch said. They received $10 for each BB gun.
The youth camp, which caters to children ages 9 to 16 and is sponsored by the National Rifle Association, "teaches the next generation how much fun shooting sports are and how to handle guns safely," he said.