A Minneapolis gun buyback program targeting weapons used in street crimes may be shooting blanks, as detractors said a Saturday collection mostly took in antiquated, unused or homemade arms from legal owners and did little to thin the firearm supply actually available to dangerous criminals.
Two Minneapolis locations collected about 150 firearms Saturday, but both exchanges were forced to shut down several hours early when officials ran out of Visa gift cards – $25,000 worth, The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
And at least some of that money helped finance the purchase of even more guns.
One anonymous gun owner told WCCO he received $200 in gift cards that he planned to use to buy a new firearm. That man said he didn’t think the program was serving its intended purpose.
“I just don’t feel that a criminal is going to come up to a fire department with a bunch of police around it and turn in a gun,” he said.
Paul Joat, an area gun collector, told The Star Tribune he bought two weapons on the street, ostensibly offering the sellers a better deal than the city could.
“A lot of what I’m seeing is gun nuts turning in their guns for more than they’re worth,” he said.
A commenter on the Minnesota Gun Talk message board noted that “every single person in line was one of us.”
The lure of a Visa gift card worth between $15 and $300 was enough to make some enterprising Minnesotans get creative.
One person constructed a “shotgun” out of a piece of wood, some tape and a pipe. They were given a $100 gift card for the contraption, according to a Facebook post from the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus.
Guns gathered during the Saturday buyback were set to be decommissioned and used in an art piece.