by John Boch
(GunNews) – Urbana’s Stone Creek Church organized a gun buyback in Champaign on August 4th in an effort to get guns out of the hands of criminals.
The event had been considered since shortly after the first of the year and the effort was bolstered by a tragic fatal shooting of a toddler by a 14-year-old.
We’re not sure how or why a 14-year-old who supposedly stole a gun from a drug-dealer “friend” of his mother in Rantoul – and who teaches gun safety by shooting toddlers in the face – would somehow be motivated to turn in a junk pistol to a bunch of cops for a $50 gift card before taking it upon himself to “teach gun safety” in his twisted fashion, but the church’s leadership was determined to “do something”. And that “something” turned out to be this gun buyback.
So, how many stolen guns were turned in? We believe the number was exactly one gun reported as stolen, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Guns Save Life sits this one out.
Given the low-ball offer of $50 per gun, Guns Save Life declined to participate, betting that we’ll be able to sell each of the dozen plus guns we currently have for $100 or more to Chicago next year or another misguided bunch of do-gooders somewhere else before then.
In an interview with Stone Creek Pastor Gary Grogan a couple of weeks before the church-sponsored buyback in Champaign , I told him Guns Save Life would not participate, either formally or informally, and that GSL would not work to embarrass the church publicly as we had done with Chicago’s gun buyback a few weeks before. I did tell him Guns Save Life shared his support of gun safety education and would be delighted to partner with them to help in any future gun safety education events.
Pastor Grogan and the church’s Youth Pastor Tony Austria apparently didn’t trust us on the day of the event. They were initially asking questions of those lining up to turn in guns, even though it was a “no questions asked” event. Those who answered “yes” to “are you a friend of John Boch?”, the president of Guns Save Life, the regional gun rights group based in Champaign County or “are you a member of a gun organization?” were shown the door.
Because of church pastors reneging on their very own terms of the buyback, we’re publicizing what a farce this event became.
Story on Pastors Behaving Badly
The list of guns
Champaign Co. Sheriff’s Office was very timely in their response to the Freedom of Information Act request sent in last week. And not only did they send the guns they retained from the event, but the entire list!
Yes, Virginia. Every last one. Here is the full .pdf of the list.
Pastor Grogan told me that the church and local police administrators projected that a their local gun buyback would probably bring in around 400 guns.
If success was measured by reaching goals, the event was a total failure as but 104 guns were turned in.
The first thing we noticed when we looked over the list was a famous S&W Model 29 in .44 Magnum. It stood out as probably the most pricey gun turned in.
It also stood out as the only gun that was listed in the Illinois Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS) database.
LEADS is a statewide data system here in Illinois, maintained by the Illinois State Police and among many other things, it includes information on lost and stolen items, including firearms.
It would seem that exactly one gun, this Model 29, had been earlier reported to police as lost, stolen or somehow involved in a police report. According to Pastor Gary Grogan, lost or stolen guns would be returned to their rightful owners. We’ll see.
The serial numbers were redacted on the Sheriff’s FOIA response and the FOIA officer at the Sheriff’s office claimed that was a “privacy” issue. We’re not sure how a gun’s serial number is a privacy matter, especially when all of the guns that weren’t stolen were to be destroyed and a serial number does not link any individual to a given gun in any database accessible to the general public.
Time will tell if the church and local police follow through to the publicized terms of the event that said all guns would be destroyed.
Why are we so skeptical? Well, we know Stone Creek Church pastors failed to abide by other terms of the event, including asking folks if they were friends of John Boch or members of any gun organizations before accepting guns at what was supposed to be a “no questions asked” event.
Given this, it wouldn’t surprise us if some of the guns that were worth more than $50 were somehow “retasked” to fates other than the smelter or the garbage dump.
We’re pondering a FOIA appeal on the serial numbers, although frankly, we don’t see what use the serial numbers – in those handful of cases the guns were new enough to have serial numbers – would affect any analysis of the results of the buyback.
Urbana’s public information officer also called this morning and wondered if he could send me a redacted list of the guns sans serial numbers and have me destroy the original list he sent me, a list he acknowledged was a day late in violation of FOIA.
I told him the original list was published already at Guns Save Life.com and at The Truth About Guns. “That horse is long out to pasture so it’s a little late to close the gate on the barn – and we have no intention of pulling that list out of the public domain.”
Junk. Pure junk.
The primary observation we had in looking over the list is that the guns were junk, just as we suspected from our past experiences at gun buybacks in Joliet and Chicago. Approximately half of the guns were so old that serial numbers weren’t even present or were obscured by rust.
There were lots of 16 ga. shotguns. There were lots of guns where the caliber and/or model were unknown.
One decent gun aside from the “Dirty Harry” .44 was a Colt Detective Special in .38 Special, condition unknown. Someone really got snookered on that unless it was a rusted, broken down specimen. In very good condition, a Colt Detective Special would easily bring $500-$700 or more from a gun store.
Also turned in was a S&W Model 12. We wonder how it feels to get $50 for a gun that would sell for $300+ on the street?
Rumors of an AR-15 being turned in for $50 were completely bunk. In fact, we didn’t notice a single, center-fire rifle in the entire mess of guns. Not even a single-shot center-fire rifle.
In short, the church spent over $5000 on a bunch of junk, save four or five of the guns any of which may or may not have been in decent, firing condition.
Imagine what else the church could have done with $5000 instead of trading it for largely scrap metal?
One thing we could think of would be to sponsor the ammunition to the Darnall’s Youth Shooting Camp, much as Chicago did this year, to teach over 120+ young adults safe and responsible firearms use and to make each of them experts at gun safety, something they can share with their friends and families for the rest of their lives.