In the week before Christmas, the city of Baltimore hosted three gun buybacks, spending at least $163,000 of an allotted $250,000 to purchase over 1,800 firearms, including an “unloaded rocket launcher”. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was quick to blame the NRA for the city’s crime problem, tagging Bloomberg’s Everytown gun control group while attributing the AT-4 anti-tank weapon’s existence on Baltimore streets to the NRA:
However, in lambasting the NRA, it appears Mayor Pugh failed to account for what the AT-4 itself likely was – a training weapon, as described by Wikipedia:
The launcher and projectile are manufactured prepacked and issued as a single unit of ammunition, with the launcher discarded after a single use.
However, as the cost of each launcher makes regular live-fire training very expensive, practice versions exist that are identical in operation but fire reloadable 9×19mm or 20mm tracer ammunition.
A live AT-4 is not a US-legal weapon – but of course, that didn’t stop Mayor Pugh from playing the blame game and attributing Baltimore’s high crime on the NRA. A spent AT-4 is considered disposable, and often and available for resale as a collector’s item – which happens to be a rather frequent occurrence on GunBroker.com:
You paid $500 for an inert rocket launcher? Those are $35 at any army surplus store. I’ll load up my truck and head to BLT. Have cash ready!
— Dr. Michael Hepner (@DrHepner) December 22, 2018
Thus, an enterprising individual could have obtained a used AT-4 tube on the cheap (or for free from a military pal) and waited for the right moment to cash in on it. And while it is impossible (for me) to tell based on the evidence image, the weapon could have been a trainer… something that LA has trumpeted as a “big score” from a gun buyback:
At the very best, Baltimore didn’t make the same mistake LA did. Still, Baltimore paid top dollar for an item whose only worth was as a collectible for a shelf.
Still, selling disposable used rocket launchers was hardly the only way to make a quick buck off of the buyback. As is typical with government-sponsored buybacks, Baltimore offered flat prices based on weapon type, not based on the weapon’s true value:
What weapons are being accepted?
- Any firearm or hi-cap magazine.
- There is no limit to the number of firearms that can be turned in.
- Only two hi-cap magazines will be accepted per person.
What are the payouts?
- Hi-Cap magazines ———————————— $25
- Revolvers, pump, and bolt action weapons ——- $100
- Semi-automatic weapons ————————— $200
- Full-auto weapons ———————————– $500
Any group of individuals large enough could have turned in dozens of “hi-cap” magazines for a quick profit, as pointed out by Dr. Michael Hepner…
I wonder how many ppl took advantage of this buyback program. Turn in $3 mags like this, resell to the city for $25, and go buy a gun! pic.twitter.com/ZJREWyuj6p
— Dr. Michael Hepner (@DrHepner) December 26, 2018
One woman shows us the 9MM she is turning in for the Baltimore City Gun Buy Back program. But she says she is using the cash to get a bigger weapon! Story on FOX45 at 4pm. pic.twitter.com/LlmCbezpU7
— Kathleen Cairns (@CairnsKcairns) December 17, 2018
…but other gun owners often turn in in older and/or non-functioning weapons for above market value – and sometimes that cash is used merely to finance an upgrade.
However, the major untold story of gun buybacks is how weapons are turned in – and what is done with them afterwards. In order for participants to consider turning a weapon in at a buyback, they must be anonymous, and the weapons must be destroyed.
The most obvious weapons that fit this bill? Murder weapons. A police source stated that he is confident that politicians end up paying murderers tax money to dispose of the same weapons that would otherwise be used as evidence put murderers behind bars if found anywhere else.
However, Baltimore’s gun buyback pales in comparison to the buyback in Hempstead, New York – which bought back toy guns from children:
Hempstead Village Trustee LaMont Jackson told WABC-TV that Hempstead officials don’t want children “playing with guns.”
“The purpose is to offer safe alternatives to toy guns,” Jackson explained. “We don’t want the kids playing with guns. Guns are dangerous.”
Hempstead Village Mayor Don Ryan echoed Jackson’s sentiments to the station.
“Saying no to guns is important,” Ryan stressed. “Even toy guns.”
Gun buyback programs can also offer regular, everyday people a quick and easy way to sell their old guns that simply no longer work. These are not criminals who would otherwise use their firearms in the commission of a crime so much as they are your elderly grandmother who simply does not want to keep around your grandfather’s relic of a pistol around the house.
Certainly, we expect many readers to hold onto their old, worn-down, or broken firearms and/or magazines in anticipation of a local gun buyback that will pay well above their true value. After all, its just free market economics in action.