So Cindy Chavez and our Sheriff Herself had another gun buy back. I really question the validity of these efforts and I do so for a number of reasons, none of which have to do with whether or not people should have guns, for the record. I believe these events have become little more than a means to politically promote one’s self on the taxpayer dime and allow people to believe that an ineffective process is making a difference.
First off, I’ve repeatedly been told by many sources that the majority of guns turned in are from families who are cleaning out the belongings of a member of the family that has passed or have them laying around for some other reason and no longer want them. They don’t know what else to do with them, they don’t want them in the house, maybe they even are against guns on the street and choose not to resell them specifically for that reason. We’re not getting guns off the streets from “bad guys”. While a small number of the returned guns had been reported stolen per claims of the sheriff, how many of the guns in the last three events were reported to have been involved in an actual crime and provided new evidence? To the best of my knowledge, not a single one. To be honest, that might add some value and validity to this whole process, but it hasn’t.
This alone makes me ask: Would it be more efficient, effective, and economically sensible to promote a public service campaign once or twice a year to let people know they can turn in guns at any time at the Sheriff’s Office or any other department in their town or county? That they will always accept guns, ammunition, etc., that you no longer want for any reason? Still no questions asked. Lowered costs. Wider reach. Better accessibility for people who may not be able to make the specially named event.
I know, it’s not glamorous, you don’t get a lot of media coverage, and not a lot of credit in the public. But that’s not the purpose of gun buy backs. Right?
When I ran by the location, there had to be 50+ personnel from the office out there. They were all on overtime from what I have been told. I am also curious why the sheriff was using Dept of Corrections personnel as well. It doesn’t seem to me that it would be wise to be using personnel not trained in law enforcement and office policies for fully sworn deputies in a public event of this nature.
Between the expense of buying back the guns, estimated at slightly below $19,000 and the personnel expense, they have to be running somewhere around $50,000 for this event, and it was a small event in comparison to others. There were 2 events in March 2013, even larger with payouts for guns over $170K between the two events. Is this the best use of taxpayer money in getting guns off the street? I don’t believe so.
Add to that, under the “no questions asked” policy, anyone can go and drop off their gun. I was talking to a friend who has been in the pawn broker business for at least a couple years and his thought was that next time, maybe he should go dump the guns he can’t get rid of at any price for the money the Sheriff’s Office is handing out. The thought came so easy from my friend, I can’t help but wonder how many times that’s been done. Are we paying out good taxpayer dollars for guns that a dealer can’t make a profit off of for some reason so we create that profit for them? With no questions asked, I imagine we have. So that means the sheriff is likely bragging about taking at least some guns off the street that are absolutely worthless at a very high price to tax payers.
Then my final issue… it seems like the gun buy backs are little more than the Board of Supervisors each taking their turn to spend tax money to self-promote — free press, free pats on the back, claims of safer streets, etc., etc. It’s a very public way for them to say “look at me, look what I’m doing for the community” every so often without actually doing a damn thing for the community. And the Sheriff gets to self-promote every time about what a great sheriff she is, without actually doing a damn thing to actually be even a mediocre sheriff, nevermind a great one.
Two events were held in March of 2013. One event was held in Dave Cortese’s name the other in Ken Yeager’s, months prior to announcing candidacies; in Cortese’s case in a high-interest race for mayor. The first event paid out $114K for guns alone, the second over $61K. $175K, plus personnel on overtime; that month alone they had to have put out $250,000 for these events, mostly to promote 3 politicians months away from beginning their next election campaigns — Sheriff Smith, Ken Yeager and Dave Cortese.
The county has a lot of needs, particularly after years of cuts. In 2013 they were letting out a breath of relieve, the first year they didn’t have to make cuts and were able to approve a “maintenance budget” — no cuts, no real increases. Yet they found hundreds of thousands of dollars for gun buy backs events. The Sheriff’s Office has a lot of needs, in 2013 especially after being unable to give deputies raises for years, or improve equipment, or even consider new technology at that point. Never mind the more than 100 coded and open positions then and still open today. Yet tens of thousands of dollars continue to be dropped without thought for better economical means because it puts a politician’s name in the paper when they feel they need a boost in name recognition or reputation.
Hey, here’s one idea that might have been a better consideration for $50,000 of the county’s money – pro-active fireworks activities like CoCo and Alameda Counties.
Maybe it’s time to find a better way to notify the public of the ability to bring unwanted weapons to any law enforcement agency in the county at any time and stop the abuse of taxpayer money being used for self-promotion.