Gun Scam, Bait and Switch


            New Orleans     In the Age of Trump and its aftermath, if we all weren’t cynical before, we are at least cautious these days about too readily believing any claims for fear of alternative “truths.”  Still, I caught myself saying, “unbelievable!” this morning, as I read about the incredible and dangerous scam involved in duping the public and endangering the community on gun buyback programs.  Something that had seemed uniquely positive event in a community for both the police and the public, turns out to be almost invariably another profit-making scheme for private business subsidized by public funds and charitable donations, and endangers both the police and the public.  What the frick!

Reading the results of the New York Times investigation of companies large and small involved in this enterprise, it turns out the business model is that the private companies working with literally hundreds of local and state police departments offer to take the guns for free with claims they are destroying them.  Turns out this isn’t true.  Communities might or might not have thought the guns were being melted down for scrap or destroyed, but what really happened is that only the receivers or frames were “crushed and the remaining parts are sold.”  The biggest company is this scam is called Gunbusters.  It’s president unabashedly and unapolegetically was quoted saying, “Our services are free for law enforcement agencies.  If we can’t cover our costs by selling parts, then we charge them.”  Furthermore, “Only about two percent of Gunbusters’ clients pay to have the full firearm destroyed, he said.  Federal agencies, including the Secret Service, are among them.”  Oh, good news there, if you’re clutching at straws.

On the other hand, if you are banned from gun purchases or ownership, these companies make bank by selling kits with the parts.  The serial numbers are now gone.  Restrictions on purchasers have now disappeared.  In effect, the gun suppliers are then marketing the ability to create “ghost guns” back into the same communities that gave them the guns free to supposedly destroy.  Have some of these guns turned up in shootings and killings later?  Oh, yeah!

This is all outrageous.

This little-known but profitable corner of the firearms economy exists because the approved method of destroying a gun contains a loophole that has been exploited. To be able to say a gun is destroyed, disposal companies crush or cut up a single piece that federal law classifies as a firearm: the receiver or frame that anchors the other components and contains the required serial number. The businesses can then sell the remaining parts as a kit: barrel, trigger, grip, slide, stock, springs — essentially the entire gun, minus the regulated piece.

One police chief in South Carolina in a classic understatement said “…I understand the concerns and those who might feel they’re less than informed….”  No, chief, not “less than informed,” but totally misled.  Now we know.  What are y’all going to do about it to stop this scam and make our communities really safe, not safely pretending, while subsidizing a money-making secondary market in gun sales?