Private Buyers Do Well at Milwaukee ‘Buy Gun Back’

By Dean Weingarten

A group of private purchasers at the Milwaukee gun turn in (buy back)
A group of private purchasers at the Milwaukee gun turn in (buy back)
Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -( As the event in Milwaukee was about to begin, private gun purchasers began to show up.

I counted 10 near the beginning of  the event, but the numbers increased.

The private purchasers spread out along the streets as the lines of vehicles backed up.  There were about 15 to 20 of them at the height of the action.

The ones that I talked to repeatedly said that they did not  have a problem with the event, and that by  purchasing the more valuable guns, they helped stretch the event dollars.

More than once, I saw private purchasers tell people bringing guns to the event that they could obtain  more money than the gun was worth at the event,  so they were better off turning  it in.

One participant at the event said that  they knew the guns that they turned in were not worth as much as what they could obtain at the event, and that was why they turned those guns in.   They said that they had other guns at home.

Taurus model 85 for $100
One private purchaser obtained this Taurus model 85 for $100. It was in like new condition. Used ones often sell for $300.
private purchasers passed background checks
Several private purchasers indicated that they had passed background checks and could legally purchase firearms.

There was a significant police presence at the event.   The police were friendly and everyone had a good time.   The private purchasers said that only one officer was a bit abrasive, but he was not there for the entire event.  Even Mayor Barrett, who has called for restrictive gun laws, said that the private buyers had a right to be there:

“Its America, I support their right to be here.”


significant police presence
The police were friendly and everyone had a good time.

The private purchasers used the presence of the police to assure the sellers that the action was legal.  I overheard more than one private purchaser say words to the effect: “This is perfectly legal.   The police have no problem with this.  See they are right here.”

I only noticed one person that was mildly disruptive.   One man yelled at people:

“Do the right thing!  Don’t sell to these guys!”

An older woman who was talking to a private buyer, while standing in line to turn in an inherited pistol, showed some spunk and chastised him,  saying:

You don’t know me!  

Later on, when the individual was shouting on a street corner, a police officer talked to him and he became less boisterous.

Most private purchasers bought several guns.  They said that they liked guns and that they intended to keep them or give them to family members.  One said that he had purchased a pistol for his wife.

Marlin made .22 rifle on top, and SKS
A purchaser said that he paid $60 for the Marlin made .22 rifle on top, and $100 for the SKS. He bought at least five guns at the event.
Mossberg 500 shotgun
Another purchaser obtained this Mossberg 500 shotgun with an extra barrel and case for $75. That is what I paid for one 40 years ago, used, without the extra barrel or case. This one had a little superficial rust, but it was a good deal. It usually sells for about $200 to $250.
Winchester model 1200
I believe this Winchester model 1200 was purchased for $75.
Hi-Point Pistol
Hi-Point pistols go for about $150, but they have a lifetime warranty. A private purchaser picked up this one at the event.

I estimate that about 50 firearms were purchased privately.  There were 353 firearms turned in at the event, so private buyers purchased about one seventh of the number turned in.

If the organizers of the event would coordinate with the private purchasers, more people could obtain market value for their possessions, and the event organizers would be able to stretch their limited resources to get more guns from people who do not  want them in their homes.   If people are ignorant of  the guns they own, they probably do not know the gun laws, and may be unwilling to take them to a gun dealer or pawn shop.   They may not consider it worth their while to take a gun to Cabela’s.    Cooperation between private purchasers and the “buy back” organizers could be a win-win situation.

It would dispel the notion that the event is primarily used as political theater to push the theme that “guns are bad” and that they should be turned in to police.

Academics have found that these events have no measurable effect on crime.  The people who turn in the guns are not criminals, and the guns turned in are not the ones commonly used in crime.

Rumors floated about.   I heard that a Thompson was turned in, but no one knew if it were an original or a later reproduction.  I never saw it, and it was never mentioned in the news, so it likely did not exist.   People said several .357 magnum revolvers were turned in, but I did not see them.

Private purchasers were wary of the old media.  A couple had read articles of mine on the Internet, and they opened up to me.

The people at the event were friendly and welcoming.  Everybody had a good time.

Update:  Jeremy, who was there, reminded me that one of the friendly officers who came out and chatted with them said that a full auto Sten submachine gun had been turned in.  I have not been able to  verify that, except that I did see one officer removing what appeared to be a very long magazine (like a Sten’s) from something, at a distance.


c2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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james a allison

how can i find out about gun buy back events around the okla.texas kansas aera, thanks


I can’t recall the last time anyone used one of those long guns in a crime in my city and county.

They claim the ‘get the guns off the streets’ is just bravo-sierra out the end of the cow.


More local FFL and dealers need to advertise their own gun buybacks and also consignment sales.

Otherwise these fine firearms will end up as scrap metal or in the private collection of one or more individuals who are well connected with these political ‘gun buyback programs’.

brian winters

Not surprisingly this activiy is illegal in Nj as you cannot purchase a firearm without a nj firearms id card and a printed out firearms purchase certificate. This can be printed off the state police website. No one who does not have a nj firearms certificate can hold a firearm. Hence walmart does not sell guns sinc eif a cashier touched a gun ringing it up that would violate state law and a person working selling guns has to be invstigated before working selling firearms. in a commercial setting.setting.

TSgt B

I’ve done this a few times, at first to educate people about firearms, and to find good deals and see that the “little old ladies” didn’t get ripped off. A few times, I was accosted by local (antigun) law enforcement types with a definite agenda. I was courteous, but stood my ground. One even threatened to arrest me because I didn’t have a “Handgun Owner Identification Card”, which was required of city residents. I explained, in great detail, and with a copy of municipal law in my hand, that not only was I not required to have an HOIC, I… Read more »


One of the claims gun buy politicians make here in PA is that burglars steal guns from homes. By people turning them in this keeps those guns out of criminal hands. Sounds like BS to me but they say it with a straight face.


Damn,I’m gonna start looking for those buy backs. I’ll travel around the country to get deals like that !