Seattle's Gift Cards-For-Guns Event Sells Out

Jan 28, 2013

Hundreds of people came out on a chilly Saturday morning to exchange their guns for $100 and $200 Amazon.com gift cards in the first guy buyback event held in Seattle in 20 years. People stood in line holding rifles in camouflage cases and shot guns wrapped in blankets among other things. Traffic clogged up city streets near the parking lot where the event took place.

Don Christiansen turned in a tactical 12-gauge shotgun. The former police officer said he brought it in out of concern about American gun culture. "This is a step in taking care of that," he said. Christiansen and his wife planned to buy a new iPod with their gift card.

The gun buyback program was scheduled to run from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., but ended three hours early when Seattle police officers ran out of gift cards. Amazon.com, the Seattle Police Foundation and other private donors contributed $80,000 for the event. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says he hopes donors will raise money to hold another buyback soon.

Gun enthusiasts stood on the sidelines of the event, offering to buy guns before people traded them in for gift cards. One would-be buyer waved hundred dollar bills to attract sellers. Police say private, on-the-street gun sales are perfectly legal. 

Seattle police officer Mark Jameson said the event was really meant to provide a safe way for people to get rid of unwanted guns. A 1992 gun buyback in Seattle netted 1,172 guns. But a study on money for guns two years later found the buyback had not led to a significant decrease in gun violence.