A pile of guns are displayed at a news conference after an annual Gun Buyback Program at the Los Angeles Police headquarters in Los Angeles on Monday, May 14, 2012. Chicago hosted a similar program Saturday, June 23, 2012, with money from the collected guns going to an NRA youth camp.(AP Photo/Nick Ut) (MintPress) – […]
(MintPress) – A gun buyback program in Chicago is gaining attention after a pro-gun rights group used the program to raise money for a National Rifle Association (NRA) youth shooting camp.
Chicago’s buyback program offered residents $100 for every gun collected and $10 for every BB gun, air gun or replica, no questions asked.
Pro-gun rights group Guns Save Life, based in Champaign, Ill., three hours south of Chicago, brought dozens of firearms – including guns and BB guns – it had collected for the buyback program. The group reportedly raised $6,240 by bringing the guns to Chicago police, most of which will help pay for ammunition for an NRA youth camp in Bloomington, Ill. The remainder of the money will pay for four bold-action rifles that will be given away to individuals attending the camp.
The city collected 5,500 guns on Saturday, June 23, during part of the annual “Don’t Kill A Dream, Save A Life” program, which aims to save lives by keeping illegal firearms off the streets. Of the guns collected, 60 came from Guns Save Life.
While the initiative is meant to remove deadly weapons from Chicago’s streets, Guns Save Life traded in guns that were rusted, damaged and, according to the group, useless.
Chicago police said the group was taking advantage of the firearm program, however, officials from Guns Save Life say they are using the money to do good by providing firearms to youth campers.
«We just took advantage of Chicago’s induced, artificial market on rusty junk,» said John Boch, the group’s president, to the Chicago Tribune.
In the past, Guns Save Life has used similar tactics twice before, submitting rusty, old guns to the cause.
“This was rusty, non-firing junk that we turned in,” Boch said. “We are redirecting funds from people who would work against the private ownership of firearms to help introduce the next generation to shooting safely and responsibly.”
While many are questioning the move, some outside of Guns Save Life are applauding the concept, including Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.
«I’m sure these kids are going to have a great time with Chicago’s money,» he told the Chicago Tribune.
Pearson went on to say that by putting on the “no questions asked” program, Chicago police are allowing criminals to drop off guns that have been used in crimes. All guns collected are destroyed by police.
Officers in the police department did not agree with the approach taken by Guns Save Life.
«There’s a ripple effect following every shooting incident that we all feel,» police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton said in an email to the Chicago Tribune. «We host the gun turn-in event on an annual basis to encourage residents to turn in their guns so that we take firearms off our streets, and it’s unfortunate that this group is abusing a program intended to increase the safety of our communities.»