Monies brought back from Joliet’s Gun Buy Back in 2001.


Guns Save Life’s trips to Chicago in recent years were far from our first rodeo at turning in clunkers for cash.  (The Truth About Guns article | Guns Save Life article)

Our first experience was in Joliet in November 2001.  Here’s the story.


Joliet police were on hand at the Joliet Gun Buyback in 2001.

Trading old, non-shooting clunkers for perfectly good money at a gun “buy-back”


by Richard Klein
Joliet, IL (Guns Save Life) – The expression “fistful of dollars” invokes images of the wild west and movie star Clint Eastwood in the movie of that title.  What is more surprising is that “fistful of dollars” is more of a reality than some movie image created by Hollywood.   Anti-self-defense government officials and bureaucrats now make fistfuls of dollars available to you and I — the everyday gun owners and citizens.  As proof of this, on November 3rd, 2001, the Joliet [IL] Housing Authority generously (or foolishly, depending on your view) handed out $50 bills to anyone who would walk in and surrender a firearm in an announced gun “buy-back” program.

The right to keep and bear arms means that gun owners are protected by the Constitution to keep and bear arms.  That right inherently means that some guns will wear out, become damaged or rendered inoperable by virtue of fire, or merely become obsolete as newer designs and fabrication methods in guns evolve.  As with anything else, a certain number of guns will fall into the ‘discard’ category for whatever reasons.

Prior to the creation of government buy-back programs, gun owners had little choice other than to discard such firearms or otherwise remove them from service.  Thanks to anti-gun do-gooder types in control of our tax dollars, gun owners can now look for opportunities to cash in such junk and come home with a fistful of dollars — with no questions asked.

Fine specimens traded for cold, hard cash.
No self-respecting criminal would be caught dead with that trash.

As a demonstration of this, two members of Guns Save Life traveled to Joliet, Illinois, on Saturday November 3rd, 2001, and upon handing over some sixteen worn out discard and junk guns — came out with eight-hundred dollars ($800!).  The “recycled” guns were about as junk as can be imagined.  The collection included —

”       Two worn out and inoperable single shot shotguns
”       a Mauser converted to shotgun with stuck and broken bolt as well as cracked stock
”       three broken and incomplete spur trigger revolvers manufactured circa 1880
”       four .22 rifles in various stages of decay, including one with a ruptured barrel
”       one very rusty .22 rifle with a broken stock, minus the action
”       a worn out and non-firing Spanish copy of a S&W Model 10 in an obscure caliber
”       four break-opens revolvers from the early 1900’s.

Only morons or gun haters would buy these clunkers for $50 cash apiece.

The entire collection of “guns” represented less than $25 in value, and that would be just for a couple of sets of the grips and other parts that were not removed in our haste to be on time to the buy-back submission.  And yet, Joliet Housing Authority officials gladly handed our two members sixteen $50 bills in exchange for several handfuls of rusty junk — a fistful of dollars!

Our readers are urged to be on the lookout for opportunities to collect similar firearm discards for future buy-backs.

Gunsmiths and dealers:  put a five gallon bucket in the corner somewhere and fill it with the junk you would have otherwise thrown away.  Someday, at the time of the next “gun buy-back,” we will act as your agent and exchange your junked guns for hard cash to support freedom and liberty through Guns Save Life dot com’s activities.

Everyone, please be on the lookout for newspaper and media announcements of future buy-backs.  Please keep us informed.

We did learn that the early bird gets the worm — and the fistful of dollars.  The Joliet buy-back was scheduled to run from 8 AM until 4 PM  — and they were so successful in attracting takers that all of their funds were expended prior to 10 AM of that day – about ten minutes after we left!

As a technical note, the officials at the buy-back program kept minimal records — as they merely entered the note “revolver,” for example, and without maker’s name and without serial number.  Our superstitious minds suggest that such lack of records is an invitation whereby substitutions can be made.  For example, if a widow would surrender a valuable firearm like an historic Colt single action army, anyone could then a later swap it with a worthless spur-triggered piece of junk and no one would be the wiser.  We did observe that most participants in the buy-back program were bringing in clunkers – utter junk, just like ours. One widow surrendered a decent .22 rifle with no clue as to its real value.

Turning waste into opportunity
Gun “buy-back” programs are a terrible waste of taxpayer money.  However, as supporters of civil rights and freedom, we may as well work to make lemonade out of the lemons we’re given by using these opportunities to put that government money to use to support freedom in America.  For example, the $800 received will be used by GSL.COM to help support our many activities — notably our GunNews Magazine and the popular Burma-style highway sign program.

Please keep us advised of any future buy-backs — and we’ll see you there in line.

And to those firearm-hating folks, please keep those fistfuls of dollars coming!


Gun buy-back program a big success
Funds depleted: 76 handguns, 67 long guns turned in for cash

Joliet, IL (Joliet Herald-News) – The guns kept coming in but the Housing Authority of Joliet ran out of money within two hours of opening shop.

The HAJ – along with the Joliet Police Department – took in 76 handguns and 67 long guns Saturday during its first gun buy-back program.

The housing authority set aside $5,000 in federal funds and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development matched the money by 43 percent – giving the program a total of $7,150 to buy unwanted guns from the public.

And every last dollar was spent. The program was scheduled to run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but Veronica Rosas of the housing authority handed out the last of the 143 $50 bills she was holding before 10 a.m.

Yes, it was Clinton-administration money, coupled with money from the Joliet Housing Authority that found its way into the GSL treasury.


Those turning in firearms at the Joliet Housing Authority office were greeting with this sign on the door:

A public notice that was displayed at the entrance.
Yeah. We’ll get right on that.


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Housing Authority of Joliet Gun Buyback Program is intended to serve the general public (defined as individual citizens) that elect to voluntarily turn-in guns.

The Gun Buyback Program is not an opportunity for public or private agencies, clubs, political groups, etc. to turn-in collected guns for self-profit or to fund a particular agency or organization.

Organizations of this nature should voluntarily turn collected guns over for meltdown to their local police departments as a public service.




From lemons come lemonade

Editorial published in the December 2001 issue of GunNews Magazine.

We used to be staunchly opposed to the idea of the government “buying back” guns that were never theirs.  We were also opposed because someday one of these low-income residents might need to defend their families from violent attack with that turned-in gun.

We were wrong on both accounts.

We went to Joliet early one Saturday morning and discovered that the people turning in guns were working-class people.  Nobody looked even remotely like a criminal.

Nobody turned in any $1000 guns.  The stuff that was turned in was, by and large, very old and very worthless.  Guns of calibers no longer produced.  Guns from makers no longer in business.  Guns without parts.  Guns without a lot of parts.  Guns without markings as to manufacturer or caliber, much less a serial number.  Guns that no rational person would even think about firing with modern ammunition.

From now on, when gun haters in our society announce they are willing to trade crisp U.S. currency for guns (and parts of guns), we support their efforts and we are going to be there.

We still think buy-backs are a waste of taxpayer money.  However, if government or quasi-government agencies are silly enough to offer perfectly good money for garbage, we will be there, garbage bags in hand.

We will trade the rusty, broken down junk in our garbage bags for cash to finance our fight for freedom.

Thank you, Joliet Housing Authority and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (under Clinton)!  Your efforts will go to help make society safer by underwriting our educational roadside messages promoting freedom and liberty.

We’re also thankful for keeping our families safer.  One of our family members might have been hurt from one of these clunkers falling from a shelf and hitting them on the noggin.