Gun buybacks are an expression of faith, a belief in the unseen. A case of domestic violence avoided, a suicide prevented? To prove a negative is futile.
On Saturday, 716 firearms were turned in at the Seattle gun buyback. Families hoping to dispose of a handgun, a “street sweeper,” even a missile launcher, did so in exchange for donated $100 or $200 gift cards. When the cards ran out, gun owners continued to wait patiently in line.
“I’ve had calls from as far south as Tacoma, and as far north as Bellingham,” said Renee Hopkins, director of the Seattle Police Foundation. Snohomish County residents ventured south to participate. King County Sheriff John Urquhart told the Seattlepi.com, “I don’t care if a gun is old or new: It is deadly.”
Buybacks demand enormous effort, including a sponsoring organization and generous local contributors. In King County, the Seattle Police Foundation provided seed funding and led the charge, corralling support from Amazon, the UW Medical Center, Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll’s nonprofit, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and others.
“I would support any efforts to get unwanted guns off our streets and out of our communities,” Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick said. “I’d like to see a gun buyback program in Snohomish County, but unlike King County, we haven’t had anyone step up to the plate to fund a buyback effort. Without public or private funding, I don’t know how such a program would be possible.”
Sheriff Lovick crosses sensibility with hope, underscoring that a buyback provides public value, however much it requires leadership and financing. Working in common cause towards a common end — to get unwanted guns off the streets — is impetus for someone to seize the reins. For a short-term effort, organizers could work in concert with the Greater Everett Community Foundation, ensuring that donations are tax deductible. The foundation has set parameters, and does not have the resources to assist with fundraising. Begin by asking the county’s largest employer, Boeing, if it would contribute $25,000. Ask Naval Station Everett if off-duty personnel might be willing to volunteer on the day of the buyback.
Healthcare providers have a vested interest. Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and the Everett Clinic might be persuaded to pitch in. Will someone, anyone, answer the call?
Buyback or no, locals can shed unneeded weapons that might otherwise fall into the hands of a young child or a crook. Unloaded and secure firearms can be handed over to the Sheriff’s Evidence Control facility at 1000 California St. in downtown Everett, or citizens can contact their local police department for information.