(MintPress) – A gun buyback program in Seattle this past weekend went awry when profiteers showed up to make money off those willing to part with their weapons.
The program, hosted by the Seattle Police Department, was the first of its kind in the last two decades, offering gun owners up to $200 for the trade in of their firearms. And while plenty of residents showed up for the offer, law enforcement officials were surprised to see gun collectors setting up shop in the midst of the crowd.
Signs popped up with messages like “Will Pay Cash for Collectables” and “$$ For Assault Rifles,” turning the area under the city’s Interstate 5 buyback zone into a makeshift gun show.
Still, law enforcement officials gave out more than 1,000 gift cards, ranging from $100-$200 for weapons handed over. KOMO News of Seattle reported law enforcement officials ran out of the buyback gift cards, leaving them with no other option than turn gun owners away. Money used to purchase gift cards came from private donations.
The guns handed over to law enforcement officials were doomed for destruction, with plans to melt them down at a local Seattle factory. That was the reason some of the makeshift gun show purchasers showed up, claiming they were on the hunt for antique weapons.
While it may seem off-putting to have a random gun show on city streets, there’s nothing illegal about it, as private gun purchases do not require background checks.
Police Chief John Diaz told the Seattle Fox affiliate that he wasn’t pleased about the street gun show, but admitted there was nothing he and his fellow officers could do about it.
“I would prefer that they would not sell them, but once again, this is a decision that each individual has the right to make,” he said.
That same gun show also yielded some interesting results for law enforcement, as one man traded in a Stinger missile launcher — but he didn’t hand it over to the cops. Instead, it was allegedly purchased by one of the gun buyers standing on the outskirts of the gun buyback event.
Seattle Detective Mark Jamieson told the Associated Press the Army Criminal Investigation Command will be notified of the purchase, as the weapon is classified as a controlled military item and is not legal for civilian possession.
A number of large cities around the nation have held gun buyback programs since the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting, which took place on Dec. 14. A gun buyback held in New Jersey at the same time of the Seattle event yielded a count of more than 2,500 weapons.