Friday, December 22, 2017

St. Louis' Gun Buyback Program Sidesteps State Law To Avoid Selling Firearms

Posted By on Fri, Dec 22, 2017 at 7:21 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA FLICKR/ANTONIO R. VILLARAIGOSA
In Missouri, guns are easy. Buying them. Carrying them. Concealing them. But for cities trying take guns off the streets with buyback programs, a 2013 law passed by the state legislature has made things difficult. The law forces municipalities to A) pass their own ordinance specifically authorizing buyback programs, and B) sell the resultant stockpile to a licensed arms dealer.

St. Louis has already met that first requirement, thanks to Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed's efforts to pass just such an ordinance in 2014. But the second obstacle has proven to be a tricky, especially since St. Louis civic leaders want to ultimately reduce the number of guns out in the wild — moving them to new owners via a gun store would seem to defeat that very purpose.

That's why this Saturday's gun buyback event has required carefully worded advertising by city officials. While the buyback was announced earlier this month with a press conference helmed by Mayor Lyda Krewson and Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards, city spokesman Koran Addo tells RFT that, technically, the event is a private affair.



"We announced it, but it's being put on and hosted by private entities. We kind of played the convener here," he says.


Those private entities, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis and the St. Louis Police Foundation, are providing the cash to pay for your guns, no questions asked: $200 for assault rifles and guns with a magazine capacity of more than ten rounds, $150 for shotguns and rifles, and $100 for handguns.

The firearms are destined, first, for the police department, where investigators will test them to determine if they're linked to unsolved crimes or thefts, says Addo. What happens after that is unclear. If this were an official city event, state law would mandate the guns "be offered for sale or trade to a licensed firearms dealer," and the city could pocket the revenue and destroy any unsold guns.

But in this case, Addo says the fate of the firearms will be determined by private entities that have funded the buyback, not the city.

"The private partners stepped up, they raised the money and it made sense that they would administer the program," Addo says.

Are the firearms fated for destruction? Addo declined to go that far.

"All I can says is, our intention is that those guns do not make it back onto the streets."

Editor's note: A previous version of this story gave the wrong date for the buyback. It is Saturday, not Sunday. We regret the error.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com

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