Thursday, June 28, 2012

A best buy in Chicagoland 2012:
Selling (s)crap metal at a gun turn in

Where else can you turn this

A photo of some of the guns we took up to Chicago, 
taken the day before our big adventure.

Into this?

 Most of the $100 "gift cards" Guns Save Life brought back from  
Chicago on June 23rd, 2012.

Which will result in this:

Pictured are most of the youth participants at 2011's 
Darnall's NRA Youth Shooting Camp.

And this:

 Pictured are the firearms winners at 2011's Darnall's 
NRA Youth Shooting Camp.

Guns Save Life is a very active, grassroots-level, regional civil rights organization famous for its pro-gun Burma-style highway signs along highways and interstates throughout Illinois and beyond.

On Saturday, June 23, 2012, three of our intrepid members, Chris Betley, John Sutter and Steve Fuller made a trip to Chicago to participate in Chicago's annual gun "turn in" event titled, "Don't Kill A Dream Save A Life" [sic].

In short, the sum real-world value of the guns we took up to Chicago would have been calculated by most people, ourselves included, solely on the scrap metal price.

To the gun-hating do-gooders up in Chicago though, they were worth big dollars. $100 for each "gun" and $10 for BB-guns and replicas, no questions asked.

To take advantage of this artificial market for rust and machined parts, we sent our three members up north with sixty "firearms" and four pellet pistols.

This was a larger and more organized endeavor than our trip up in 2007, where Guns Save Life sold $2300 worth of rusty scrap metal to these same do-gooders in Chicago. In more recent years, Mayor Daley was only offering $50 for guns and GSL sat those years out.

Link to our story from our 2007 trip.

We didn't idle our time away during those years. We've been collecting non-firing junk donated by our Guns Save Life members non-stop, earmarking the sale of those rusty and/or broken down clunkers to the self-defense eschewing gun-haters in Chicago for a very good cause: the children.

It's worth mentioning that we use the term "firearms" very inclusively as these "firearms" were, by and large, non-functioning, broken down junk. Many of the guns that didn't look like they had spent the last twenty years at the bottom of Lake Erie didn't even have trigger groups or other significant parts, often scavenged by members before donating them to us. Many were little more than barreled receivers, including ten pre-1898 Mausers. Out of the sixty guns, maybe a dozen would shoot a round or two, but some of those would probably have been pretty exciting (in an unhealthful way) to fire.

When they arrived in the big city with their truckload of guns no self-respecting criminal would dare be caught dead carrying, our members found lots of police.

"There was a heavy police presence at the turn-in locations," Betley said in describing his experience.

"If you were a criminal, there's no way you would go to one of these," Betley said. "There were police everywhere, including detectives that were sizing up people as they came in. They knew what we were up to. Most of them didn't care," Betley noted, "but some of the younger detectives acted pissed off about it."

At the second location they visited, our members ran into what they all agreed was a tenacious, bordering on obnoxious detective. The detective hit our three guys up with a series of rapid-fire questions and acerbic remarks.

"Where in the hell did you dig these up? Out of a grave site?" the detective asked. "Who are you with? What's your affiliation?" he continued. So much for the "no questions asked" policy advertised!

Betley said he told those who asked, including the rude detective, that "we" had been collecting old clunkers as a fundraiser for our youth camp.

"I didn't mention that it was a youth camp with guns," Betley laughed heartily.

Another detective there also gave them some grief. "Hey, next time, get some guns from this century, will ya?"

A Chicago Police officer at that location also "broke" one of our "guns" by beating it against a metal door frame trying to open the action to ensure it was unloaded. It was an old muzzle-loading double-barreled shotgun sans stock and much of the receiver… making opening the action to check for shotgun shells an understandably difficult proposition. After breaking the rusty barrels open, the cop then wouldn't give us credit for turning it in as he said it wasn't a gun. In a moment of poetic justice, though, a paperwork snafu at the next location netted us two cards that our members told them we weren't entitled to, but the sponsors at one of the locations insisted we take them. In the end, we brought back $6140 worth of gift cards.

At the third location, one of the detectives was much friendlier and said that he saw an old Civil War-era revolver come through and thought it really sad. "And it wasn't a replica," the detective said, apparently knowing his stuff. We reckon any moron selling a $10,000 gun for $100 gets exactly what he deserves.

Mostly though, it was mostly junk that was turned in by mostly older folks.

John Sutter talked about his experience, saying he was a little nervous but really enjoyed participating in what he termed "a big adventure".

"Yeah, we were out of place," he said. "But it was fun."

At the third location they stopped at, Sutter said there was no parking, so they just stopped in the street and began unloading the uncased rifles and shotguns out of the back of the truck into the arms of two of the three guys. They carried them towards the church where they thought they were supposed to go.

Nearby cops hollered at them. "Boys! You're on the wrong side of the street!"

They then carried their rusted iron (or loot, depending on perspective) back across a busy street to the proper church while the third GSL member drove around the block waiting for the other two to come back out.

They laugh about it now. "Where else could you walk across a busy street with an armload of uncased guns in Chicago?" they now chuckle.

In the end, Guns Save Life netted about $5000 to be used for upcoming youth shooting endeavors, thanks to the brave work of three of our members and donations from dozens of our members. A few of the donations were a 50/50 split with those who donated them for credit on advertising in GunNews or memberships.

We'll be using most of our net for buying ammunition for the annual Darnall's NRA Youth Shooting Camp held each summer in Bloomington, IL at Darnall's GunWorks and Ranges, and for buying some of the guns they give away to participants.

The camp, the longest running NRA Youth Shooting Camp in the nation, hosts about 100 youths ages 9-16 each year over four days and three nights (Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon). At the camp, the youth participants learn basic firearm safety along with an opportunity to learn some of the fundamentals and practical experience with numerous shooting disciplines including rifles, pistols, black powder, Cowboy Action, air rifle, trap, archery, hunting safety and education, and more. Instruction, often at Olympic level of quality, is provided by long-time experienced NRA certified instructors and shooting coaches.

Also, at the conclusion of the camp, awards are presented and typically as many as twenty guns are given away to the young participants.

Guns Save Life has been a strong and steady supporter of this youth camp for over ten years now, and many years is the single largest sponsor. Guns Save Life purchases most, if not all of the ammunition each year - tens of thousands of rounds of rimfire ammunition and thousands of shotshells.

Not only does GSL buy the ammo and donate guns to give away to the youth participants, but dozens of our active members donate their time either as instructors or volunteers.

I’m quite proud to say that I’m president of this fine organization and couldn’t be prouder at what our members accomplished Saturday, June 23rd. We rounded up these guns in anticipation of this foolish event orchestrated by big city gun bigots, executed our plan to sell them and used the 'gift cards' to purchase ammunition and firearms to help teach tomorrow's gun owners safe and responsible use of firearms.

So, thank you Mayor Rahm Emanuel. We hope you'll do it again next year. For the children, of course!


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