Officials, police to launch gun buy-back program in event at 19th and Madison


In an effort to create a community component to help curb the proliferation of local firearms, officials will gather Tuesday morning at 19th and Madison’s Mount Zion Baptist Church to announce the start of a county gun buy-back program.

“Tomorrow’s announcement will detail a new gun buy back effort in Seattle and the surrounding region, a specific component of the GunSafety Initiative,” the media bulletin for the event reads.

Update: We are at the press conference and will post updates.

People with legal guns will also be able to get free trigger locks, Mayor McGinn said.

“By taking these measures today, we are certainly preventing tragedies,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Dr. David Fleming of Seattle-King County Public Health made the case that gun violence is a public health issues that can be addressed, pointing to other similar countries like Australia or the UK that have far lower rates if gun deaths.

Guns bought back will be melted down, and the mayor said discussions were ongoing about what to do with that metal. “Maybe there’s something symbolic we could do,” he said.

Here are the details on the program from SPD:

The Seattle Police Department is partnering with King County, local businesses, the Seattle Police Foundation, and community groups to get guns off Seattle’s streets by trading unwanted weapons for useful gift cards.

The first gun buyback is scheduled for Saturday, January 26th from 9 am to 3 pm, in the parking lot underneath Interstate 5 between Cherry and James Street.

For every handgun, shotgun, and rifle you turn in, you can earn a $100 gift card from companies like

You can double down on that deal by turning in any guns classified as “assault weapons” in Washington State, earning a $200 for each assault weapon.

This isn’t a trick, and this isn’t a sting. Whether you’re turning an anti-tank missile launcher you “found” in your basement, or your Gammie’s old .45, the buyback is anonymous with no questions asked. SPD won’t take pictures of you as you drop off guns or ask you to sign anything.

Some other things you should know:

Please treat all guns you bring to the buyback as if they were loaded, unless you are familiar with the firearm and are able to unload it yourself. When you arrive at the gun buyback, a uniformed officer will contact you, make sure the gun is safe, and direct you towards the gift cards.

Once you turn in a gun, it becomes property of the Seattle Police Department and will be destroyed. No take-backsies.

Turn in as many guns as you like, but we reserve the right to limit the number of gift cards we hand over to one person. If you show up with 1500 guns, you might not walk away with $150,000 in gift card swag.

The department will check see if any of the guns are reported stolen and, if we end up recovering a previously stolen firearm, we’ll make every effort to return it to its rightful owner.

You can also drop off un-used ammunition or fireworks at the buyback location.

We’ll be announcing dates for additional buybacks around Seattle and King County in the near future, so stay tuned.

It’s a busy week for gun reform advocates. On Sunday, the Stand Up Against Gun Violence march and rally will start at Westlake.

While the programs are relatively common in American cities, the Seattle area hasn’t seen a buy-back since the ’90s. This federal study looked at the efficacy of a Seattle buy-back in 1992:

Of the 1,172 firearms relinquished, 95 percent were handguns, 83 percent were operational, and 67 percent were owned for more than 5 years.

“Comparing firearm-related events per month before and after the program, crimes and deaths increased, and injuries decreased, but the changes were not statistically significant,” the study concluded.

Officials have lined up several local companies to back the initiative including big, Amazon, and small, Capitol Hill and Belltown-focused entertainment entrepreneur Dave Meinert’s Five Point Cafe.

The program comes in the wake of the deadly Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that has reignited the nation’s efforts at gun reform. The Seattle City Council has formed a committee to consider making a push for greater civic autonomy to control guns in the state.

There is no publicly available accounting of how many crimes in the area involve guns. The Central District continues to feel the pain of gun-related deaths, including 2012’s high profile Justin Ferrari murder case. But the pain of gun violence stretches far beyond neighborhood borders, and the CD has also mourned the deaths of community members shot and killed in other areas of the region, including Desmond Jackson and DeShawn Milliken. The two homicides that occurred in 2012 on Capitol HIll and First Hill involved handguns. Darek Darewski was shot to death on Harvard Ave last January while Gloria Leonidas was shot and killed during the Cafe Racer spree in the spring.

Here’s the media bulletin on Tuesday’s event:

Mayor, County Executive, Seattle Police Department, Seattle Police Foundation, King County Sherriff, former Seattle mayors, Mount Zion Baptist Church, sponsors and community partners to announce Seattle-King County Gun Safety Initiative

Please join Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Executive Dow Constantine, the Seattle Police Department, the Seattle Police Foundation, the King County Sherriff, former Seattle Mayors, Mount Zion Baptist Church, Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County Dr. David Fleming, Café Racer owner Kurt Geissel, and other community leaders tomorrow morning for the launch of the Seattle-King County Gun Safety Initiative.

Tomorrow’s announcement will detail a new gun buy back effort in Seattle and the surrounding region, a specific component of the GunSafety Initiative. Former Seattle Mayors Greg Nickels, Norm Rice, Charles Royer and Wes Uhlman will co-chair the Gun Safety Initiative. Sponsors of the gun buy back effort currently include:


  • Amazon
  • Five Point Café
  • Nate Miles, Eli Lilly
  • Nucor Steel
  • Seattle Police Foundation
  • SEO Moz

Community partners of the gun buy back effort include:

  • Associated Recreation Council
  • Café Racer
  • Mount Zion Baptist Church
  • Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce

WHEN: 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, January 8, 2013
WHERE: Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1634 19th Avenue


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