Virginia "voluntary gun turn-in" program runs into predictable problems

I never get tired of the seemingly endless series of stories about communities where they decide to combat gun violence by having voluntary gun turn-in or “buy back” programs. It’s not that I object to seeing them try… everyone is free to do what they wish under the law. But all of these stunts seem to wind up defeating their own purpose or simply devolving into parody. There’s another of these programs taking place in Virginia and, as usual, word got out about it in advance. This led legal gun owners to spot a unique opportunity. Rather than seeing people simply surrender their unwanted firearms to the city, why not see if you can score some pre-Christmas savings and offer to buy them? (

A gun rights organization is attempting to turn Saturday’s 3rd Annual Gun Give Back Event sponsored by Fredericksburg Police into something else altogether.

Consider this headline on a story about the event on the website Ammoland:

“Cheap Gun Buy Opportunity in Fredericksburg VA”

And from the story: “. . .if you offer hard cash to the sellers, you can probably get some nice guns for a song. Some gun owners have done so in the past by parking on the road that leads to the police station, and holding up some signs indicating they are offering cash for guns.”

Alrighty, then.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with a program such as the one the police are running. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there’s much particularly right about it either. If people want to turn over their unused weapons and have them either destroyed or donated to ballistics testing labs, that’s their business. But despite all the assurances that the guns will be accepted “no questions asked,” I remain doubtful that any serious criminals guilty of gun crimes will be showing up. If they have a functional weapon in their possession, that’s a big sacrifice to make. And if they’re guilty of any serious violent crimes, I’m somewhat skeptical that they’re going to be cruising up to a gaggle of cops to hand over one of the key (and expensive) tools of their trade.

For those of you worrying about the legality of transactions between private buyers, fear not. First of all, most of these sales are going to be negotiated pretty much under the nose of the cops. And under Virginia firearms law, everyone will be able to get a background check in a matter of minutes. The same rules apply here as at gun shows.

Upon request, the State Police provides background checks in private transactions at Firearms Shows in Virginia for the sale or transfer of handguns or long guns at the event. For a voluntary check in a private transaction, both the buyer and the seller must be a resident of Virginia. The prospective purchaser must provide written consent permitting the State Police to perform the records check by completion of a Virginia Firearms Transaction Consent Form. It is unlawful for any person to willfully and intentionally make a false statement on the consent form. A fee of $2.00 will be collected in advance by the State Police for transmittal to the General Funds of the Commonwealth to assist in the cost of conducting the check.

So there’s a good chance the cops won’t be getting a large number of “dangerous” guns off the streets and even less that they will be depleted from the stockpiles of criminals. But if some law abiding gun owners wind up getting a good deal on a new firearm, what’s the harm?

Bun Buyback

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