MI: Grand Rapids 2nd Gun Turn-in Upstaged by Private Buyers

Image from Grand Rapids Police Facebook, Cropped and Scaled by Dean Weingarten

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- The second phase of the great Grand Rapids Police gun turn-in of 2020 has come and gone. On 7 November, at 851 Leonard St. NW, police stopped the turn-in.

The program was labeled with the Orwellian term “buyback”. A police department cannot “buyback” what it never owned. The vast majority of the over 450 million privately owned guns in the United States were never owned by any local, state, or national government entity. There were a few million guns sold surplus after the great wars; but those are about 1% of the total number.

Most of the guns in the picture put on facebook by the Grand Rapids Police Department are older antiques and inexpensive models. In the center of the picture, with plastic simulated ivory grips, is an old acquaintance, the RG-14. It is an inexpensive revolver, but it generally works. I was able to shoot a 2 inch group with one at 50 feet, using a rest and a lot of concentration to overcome the horrible trigger. It might be worth $50. The program paid $100.

As expected, the program ran out of gift cards early. Most of the cards were probably used on 24 October, when 107 firearms were turned in. It appears another 53 firearms were turned in on 7 November. Exactly when the program was shut down is uncertain. The time stamp on the announcement at the Grand Rapids Police Department Facebook page shows 9:09 a.m. The program was not scheduled to start until 10 a.m. From the Facebook page:

This past Saturday, the Gun Buy Back was forced to end early, as all of the funds were spent. One hundred sixty firearms were turned in.
This program has been a great success. The City and the GRPD greatly appreciates the support, as we continue to work towards being the safest mid-sized city in the US.
Image from City of Grand Rapids, for the event, cropped and scaled by Dean Weingarten

From the comments on the Facebook page, it is clear the program ended before 1 p.m. One commenter, GT Comet, arrived at 1 p.m. and found the program shut down, with a parking lot of private buyers paying cash for guns brought in after the gift cards ran out. From the comments:

EPIC FAIL today by the Grand Rapids Police Department, they held a gun buy back at Genesis Non-Profit Housing Corporation located at 851 Leonard St. NW 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. When I got there at 1:00 the GRPD was gone and the parking lot was full of guys paying cash for guns.

The Grand Rapids Police Facebook page is the only coverage of the event on 7 November found in several searches of the Internet. This is not surprising, because the paucity of results, combined with the private buyers on the scene, contradict and destroy the propaganda value of the event.

The academic community pretty much agrees the only value of such events is the propaganda value.  This report in the wausaupilotandreview.com from January 2020, does a decent job of showing this, in spite of the Orwellian terms used, such as “Gun Violence” and “buyback”. From the report:

“Given the empirical evidence, police agencies may use gun buyback programs not with the expectation of reducing violent crime, but to satisfy the public’s expectations,” the authors write. “When serious crime problems occur, mayors and police chiefs are under pressure from their constituents to ‘do something dramatic and effective’ about the violence.”

These gun “buyback” programs are part of the larger culture war. They are designed to send a message: Guns bad. Turn them in to the police. 

Private buyers at these events cancel the “guns bad” message. They send the message: Guns Good. I pay cash.

The culture warriors who picked up some guns for a little money in Grand Rapids, Michigan, while placing guns which might end up on the street into responsible hands, were achieving the program’s stated purpose, while canceling the unstated propaganda message.

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 retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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My question has always been why don’t the gun show producers ever make it abundantly clear that you can bring these guns to your local gun shows to “properly dispose of them”?

J Gibbons

Now I wish I’d driven up to GR a couple of weeks ago. Could have picked up a few good deals buying (not buying back) used guns.

Matt in Oklahoma

Opportunity for some. Money making for others in need.
Your right though in that you can’t buyback what you never owned but that’s the thinking of some who are power hungry and think they own everything


I had seriously considered driving over to GR and taking a few hundred bucks, to purchase maybe a nice revolver, or an ” assault rifle.” The problem with the revolver is that I looked online for .38 special ammo, and found nothing, save 4 different types of carry ammo, with the average price of 1.25$ per round. I don’t want to buy a gun that I cannot shoot. As for the AR 15, or an AK 47, while they are fun to shoot, my oldest son having both of them, I myself don’t have any real use for either of… Read more »

Dubi Loo

So the Grand Rapids police prove private sales without a “comprehensive background check” are a good thing. Either that, or they are acting as an FFL.


I went to a gun “buy back” in seattle a few years ago. I picked up a half dozen firearms for US$275. One was a Winchester 30-30 made in 1949 for a hundred. Good day


Matt, thankfully, we don’t see many of these events in Oklahoma. I have read about some similar “buybacks” billed as a “Toys For Guns” trade. I decided if I ever had one of those near me, I would go and ask loudly, “What kind of gun can I get for this ‘Tickle-Me-Elmo’?”