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Champaign gun “buy back” flop sees intimidation, questions and unpublished conditions while netting a mere 25% of expectations

August 14, 2012

Champaign, IL (GunsSaveLife) – The former Urbana Assembly of God church, now known as Stonecreek Church, sponsored a gun “buy back” in Champaign on Saturday August 4th.  One family turning in guns was greeted with lots of questions and a healthy dose of rudeness and intimidation while another man was turned away at the scheduled opening merely for belonging to the NRA.

Darren Lucas of Rankin said he was there bright and early with four guns.  Accompanied by his wife, the two were taken aback at the inquisitive atmosphere right out of the gate, especially with a dozen or more police officers swarming around.  “This would have hardly been a criminal-friendly environment!”

“It’s supposed to be a ‘no questions asked’ event, but the first thing out of their mouth was ‘Are you friends with John Boch?’,” Lucas said.

“How is that relevant to this?” Lucas said he asked the church’s pastor Gary Grogan.

“We don’t want to waste our money on friends of John Boch,” the pastor replied.  “You know, we don’t have to accept your guns.”

Stonecreek Church Pastor Gary Grogan

Leonard Wilson of Urbana, who lives just a few blocks from the sponsoring church, was turned away at 10:00 a.m. scheduled opening time by a police officer who told him those who are members of a “gun organization” are ineligible for the event.

“The police officer claimed they were running low on credit cards and anyone belonging to a gun organization was ineligible,” Wilson said.  “I asked the cop, ‘it’s 10 o’clock now, how the hell is it you are running out of cards already?’  The cop said ‘have a nice day.’”

Lucas was apparently just ahead of Wilson and said it took nearly a half-hour to surrender three guns and get paid for them.

“They wanted to know what kind of guns I had, what caliber and so forth,” Lucas recalled.  They wouldn’t accept the obviously broken down .22 rifle, but did accept three ancient, broken-down revolvers.

After providing him a brochure they offered him two pre-paid credit cards.  When Lucas asked where the third card was, the church’s College and Young Adults Pastor Terry Austria rudely said they would only give a maximum of two cards per person.

“Here’s my wife.  There’s two of us.  If you’re not going to pay me for it, give me a gun back,” Lucas told Austria.

Teary-eyed Youth Pastor Tony Austria

Austria rudely refused and told Lucas to talk with the police officer if he wanted to retrieve his gun.

After about five or ten minutes of back and forth, the church’s “rude” representatives found they weren’t going to intimidate the Lucas family out of that third card.  Pastor Austria, “with tears in his eyes” passed the third card over, asking “What are you doing here?”

“It was so bizarre,” Lucas recalled.  “He actually had tears in his eyes.”

In the first half-hour of the four hour event, Mr. Lucas said he estimated the sponsors took less than a half-dozen guns from the first three people there.  “There were probably eight cars behind us,” he said when they left at 10:30.
This would suggest the event’s sponsors were going to fall well-short of their 400 gun projection.  Indeed, Urbana police “tweeted” that 104 guns were received after the event.

Lucas said Pastor Grogan asked each of the first three people present if they were friends with John Boch and quizzed them about the make, model and caliber of what they were turning in.

Guns Save Life declined to participate in the Champaign, IL “buy back” for a number of reasons, including the chintzy purchase price and recent current events.

If anyone out there would like to file a Freedom of Information Act request of the Urbana police as to an itemized list of the guns collected, to include make, model and serial number, we would encourage them to do so.

Photos courtesy Stonecreek Church.

2 Responses to Champaign gun “buy back” flop sees intimidation, questions and unpublished conditions while netting a mere 25% of expectations

  1. […] first three people to show up before the event opened were asked by the pastor of the Stone Creek Church if they were friends of John Boch, the president of Guns Save Life, a regional gun rights organization that just weeks before sold […]

  2. […] Story on two peoples’ experiences at the buyback […]