South Seattle Cop on Gun Buy-Back: Great for Destroying Evidence


“Ask South Seattle Cop” is a new column written by an anonymous South Precinct police officer and longtime Rainier Valley Post contributor. Send your questions for South Seattle Cop to editor@rainiervalleypost.com.

RVP: What are your thoughts on the recent gun buy-back in Seattle? Don’t studies show they’re more feel good than effective?

SSC: Yes, that is correct. They are a good way to quickly drum up positive press if your voting base leans heavily to the anti-gun side, which is why I think this was done. But that’s about all it does.

RVP: Are we buying back the wrong guns?

SSC: Yes, that’s one of the main problems. It was reported that four stolen guns were turned-in, however, I seriously doubt that the person(s) who turned them in had any idea they were stolen.

The guns we collected were mostly old guns out of people’s closets, old trunks, and attics. Some were even rusted shut. These guns were in the hands of mostly responsible owners anyway, and these owners did not have any interest in owning them for recreation, hobby, or defense, so that is why they disposed of them.

RVP: Do gun buy-back events save lives?

SSC: I don’t think so, and I’ve seen no data indicating otherwise.

RVP: Do you think last month’s event will have any impact on gun violence in the Rainier Valley?

SSC: No, I do not believe the gun buy-back Seattle conducted will have any effect on crime/violence.

Although gun buy-backs are a quick feel-good project that politicians like because they are an easy 2-minutes of good publicity on the evening news, they essentially have no other effect.

Gun buy-backs do nothing to address the real problem of criminals and deranged people out in the streets bent on doing harm who are not being treated, subjected to meaningful consequences when they decide to commit crime, or supervised closely and strictly enough when released early from prison on parole/probation.

Another problem with this particular event is that the City opted not to IBIS test (Integrated Ballistics Identification System) the firearms purchased, but instead immediately destroy them. Thus, if we recovered a piece of evidence in a gun-crime that could lead us to a dangerous killer who is otherwise now roaming free (perhaps not the person who turned it in), we will never know it since a key piece of evidence will be melted down and gone forever.

If a city wants to do a gun buy-back, it doesn’t hurt anything I suppose, but it doesn’t help either. If you run a gun buy-back under the rules the City of Seattle mandated, you run the risk of providing the enterprising criminal with an easy way to permanently destroy otherwise traceable criminal evidence, and get some extra cash to boot (perhaps towards the illegal purchase of his/her next illegally possessed firearm).

RVP: What about the impromptu gun show that sprouted up around last week’s buy back?

SSC: If you mean the antique and collectible buyers who worked the line looking for valuable weapons about to be destroyed, I think they were doing nothing harmful, and probably saving antiques and artifacts of value from people who did not want them. The person turning the gun in got a better deal from the private buyer than they would have from the City. From what I could tell it looked like most of them were small gun-store owners and a bunch who were members of the WAC (Washington Arms Collectors).

RVP: Anything else you’d like to add?

SSC: I think State Senator Mike Carrell and Sate Representative Mike Hope are both proposing legislation that appears to actually try and address the roots of the problem, from what I have read. Their ideas will not result in overnight quick-fixes and quick results they can tout on the next evenings news. I do think however their proposed solutions will make more difference in the long run than anything else I have heard proposed so far. I think they are on the right track.

The dialogue that occurs here between friends, neighbors and engaged citizens is one of the features that makes your RVP such a valuable community resource. Your RVP does not necessarily endorse the opinions expressed.