by John B.
I left Champaign-Urbana at 0530 with 27 guns in my trunk and one on my hip. Given that Chicago Police reportedly now receive one vacation day and a $300 bonus on their paychecks for each gun they confiscate, I was very cautious. Visions of a car accident and subsequent police contact and discovery of the guns in my trunk filled the back of my mind. It would surely earn me the label of "gun runner" and incarceration in the disease-ridden bowels of Chicago’s city jail.
I'm sure the eyeballs first officer to find said guns would be wide with glee:
"Hoo YAH! Cha-CHING, BABY! I just got a month and a half off and a free trip to Aruba!"
I had 23 guns to turn in and didn’t want to take them all in at once as I expected that would raise suspicions. So I decided to visit three or more turn-in locations to “spread” things out. You know, take five or so into each location until I ran out of guns or they ran out of credit cards.
I had a map with turn in locations listed and had planned to be there at 0800, so as not to get there after they ran out of cards (as almost happened to us in Joliet a few years ago when we got there at 0930 or so). I went to the best location proximate to I-90/94 and found myself in the heart of the bad-news ghetto in Chicago. Fortunately, the city’s thugs were sound asleep at this wee hour. I found the door locked at the church and nobody around. Called 311 and found that the event started at 1000.
I killed some time by reconnoitering the second location I planned to transact business with and found a drugstore for a restroom.
Returned to location #1 and guardedly read a couple of chapters of “Godless” by Ann Coulter. Towards 1000, there were a lot of folks around looking like they were going to be turning stuff in, so I grabbed two bags (of five) out of the trunk and went to the door at 1000 sharp. Didn’t want them to run out while I’m standing there with a bunch of guns. Didn’t figure they’d take too kindly to me walkin’ out with a bunch of guns in Wal-mart bags (hey, I double bagged them!) if they didn’t have enough cards.
I stood in line there listening to a bunch of hopeless sheep bleat for half an hour. It repulsed me. "I've been blessed," one man said. "When things happen around me, like shooting or people screaming, I don't even look up."
"I figure if something's gonna happen to me, it's gonna happen," he concluded.
Won’t look up if he hears a woman screaming? How pathetic is that?
Now, Chicago officials would probably tell you this program is helping to get guns out of the hands of criminals in one way or another. Well, the average age of the folks waiting in line there was about 60 and I’m not sure anyone there didn’t have at least some gray hair. Heck, tne fella next to me was on oxygen and at least one lady had a cane. These were law-abiding folk. Typically, they were there with a gun that had been in the attic or closet for the last thirty or forty years. They were not criminals or dope slingers who would use a gun to victimize anyone.
Sure, a burglar might have stolen a gun they came across, but do we worry about our cars being stolen and used in crimes that result in good people getting hurt?
You think about those things when you’re standing in the middle of some lousy ghetto in Chicago, disarmed and standing on a sidewalk with two bags full of guns, waiting for them to get around to opening, late.
They finally opened at 1030. They let us in, two at a time. I was first with a real gun... or ten, in this case. Older, but very nice, cop played the gun expert, but it was clear he was no expert. I had to help him show clear on many of the guns as he was painfully slow in his inept effort at opening old wheelguns. After professing an ignorance about guns, I had to pretend to fumble around with the mechanisms. I threw in a few muzzle sweeps for good measure to make it look good. I did keep my finger off the trigger though.
He took all ten, including the starter pistol, as real guns. Yes, a cheap .22 blank pistol that might have been used at a high school track match long ago. Not my problem that he gave us $100 for that pistol. He was just glad and happy I could show him empty cylinders, as he was initially taking about two or more minutes per gun to check them (until I started fumbling and sweeping) and there were lots of folks waiting outside.
They gave me ten credit cards and thanked me profusely, falling all over themselves to tell me what a great thing I was doing and I reciprocated, encouraging them to do it again!.
I stuffed the envelopes into my back pocket after folding them.
I noticed that she was pulling the envelopes out of a box which contained an estimated 200 envelopes. ($100 x 200 = $20,000 x 23 locations = About a half-million in support of this program from someone. Looking back, it seems like a pretty fair estimate!) Separate box for the $10 cards for pellet guns and replicas. Similar number of envelopes there.
I left the building in condition orange, watching for any thugs waiting to ambush anyone coming out. The suspicious character watching me carefully with my two bags of guns wasn’t there any longer. Got into the car across the street and was giddy with excitement. I had just sold $10 worth of scrap plus maybe a $50 5-shot .22 "affordable" wheel gun for $1000! It seemed too good to be true!
On to location #2. I was a little worried, since I was a half-hour behind schedule, thanks to the late open at the first church. Still no thug-types on the sidewalks even though it was approaching 1100. I had reconnoitered the location #2 earlier, so it was effortless to find after a few minutes and a single turn. Found a parking spot fairly close to the door.
That was a good thing, because I had nine long guns in two bags, plus another small bag of handguns to go and I was still deep in the rough part of the nation’s murder capital (or close runner up). About forty awkward pounds of rusty (s)crap. I mulled over whether or not to split this into two take-ins (at location #2 and then #3), but decided that based upon my warm reception at location #1, I'd just take them all in.
Oops. One rusty revolver fell out of one of the bags on my way in and skittered across the sidewalk. Ah, crap. I picked it up and palmed it. Whew! Glad nobody saw that.
In I went, greeted warmly. "Whoa! I see you've got some guns!" says the lady at the door. She must have noticed the barrels sticking out of the plastic bag or maybe the rusty clunker in my palm. Clearly, she must have been a detective.
Waited in line, watching "the room". Hot shot young guy was clearing the guns on the table by the door. Very "friendly", but invasive at the same time. Classic "good cop". I’m sure he’d be a good buddy – if you were a fellow cop.
Guns were getting really heavy. I put them down. Whew!
Finally, after the 70-year-old man ahead of me has a pump action bird gun and a single-shot break-open shottie checked, it’s my turn.
I hand the bag with the sawed-off rifle and a pistol or two in it to the hall monitor after asking her ever-so-sweetly if she could hand the bag to the “nice young man” otherwise identified as Hotshot while I dragged forty-plus awkward pounds towards the table. She did, handling it like it had fresh dog feces inside.
"Hey, howya doin'" he greets me. "All these unloaded?"
"I dunno. I think so. I'm not real big on guns." My toes were crossed.
He has trouble getting the guns out of the duct-taped bag. I instinctively reached for my blade, which was not there because its four and a half-inch blade would have landed me in the slammer in disarmed-victim Chicago. Instead, I had my little Spyderco in my pocket (not clipped), but I wasn’t going to let them grab that as its blade was 2 1/2 inches long (also in violation of the 2” rule in Chicago).
“One of you guys got a knife to help him open this up?” I asked.
They all looked at one another like I just asked them for a gold brick or something. Not one of five cops had a blade. How sad.
Finally, some little old lady brings a pair of $1.00 scissors and Hotshot cuts the tape, with some difficulty.
He starts checking them, and notices the rust on his hands from a couple of really choice specimens. You could get tetanus from these if you had any open sores.
"Didja hit a bunch of pawn shops or something?" He asked. "Hey, Benny, come look at these."
Benny comes over and starts sweating me. He's playing "bad cop" in a restrained way. Same questions, only a lot more assertive. "Where'd you get all these? You buy them to bring here?"
They broke me in about as long as it takes in CSI or one of those other cheesy TV cop shows for David Caruso’s character to break down the bad guy’s will.
"Uh. No, they aren't really mine. They belonged to my grandfather and his father. I sold the decent ones and had this stuff in the attic for a long time until I saw you guys were giving $100 cards for any old guns."
Midway through his clearing of the guns, Hotshot motions for me to come closer while he was holding one of the guns.
"Hey, did you know this one was one of our sniper rifles from World War II?" he asked. "See this here," he noted, pointing at the elevation mechanism for the broken rear sight, "this is the windage adjustment."
I think I was able to keep a straight face, but it was really hard.
"Wow. If I'd have known that, I mighta kept that one," I replied. It was a broken down, 60s-era, hardware-store, tubular-fed .22 long rifle pump gun with the tube hanging out of the receiver. I later told this to the guy who donated this gun to the club, and he laughed. "It must have been a one-of-a-kind custom gun!" he said with a hearty laugh.
After showing clear on all thirteen, Benny showed me to the "money table." Similar number of envelopes, only the box was only 2/3 full here. Another woman was busy making notes for each of 13 envelopes and putting labels on the guns. I sashayed over to the other end of the table and had a peek at the "pistol" box. Total junk. Pot metal wheel guns. Maybe a couple of S&Ws, but more likely, just patent-infringement guns from no-name makers. No modern semi-autos.
"Hey you, get over here." Oops, they caught me eyeballing their treasure.
I sheepishly returned.
They gave me the envelopes and watched suspiciously as I verified the count. Gave them a big thumbs up and a smile and turned to leave. It was like they had formed a reception line behind me. Four or five of the women wanted to shake my hand and thank me profusely. Even took my photo with a big shot there. I remembered to stick my middle finger out a lot further than the rest of my fingers while trying to hold a fanned out stack of envelopes for the photo.
Ugh! Got out of there and I ran out of hand sanitizer and baby wipes in the car wiping the funk off my hands.
PLEASE NOTE: Everyone, including the CPD officers were very polite and kind (well, with the exception of ‘Benny’ who was trying to grind me at a “no questions asked” event, but he was still an okay guy). They all meant well, even if they weren’t nearly as proficient in handling firearms as they thought they were.
In my opinion, they should secure some of those “safe zone” pads or maybe old body armor as a safe backstop when handling these very old and possibly malfunction-prone guns (because of rusted firing pins or other issues). They might also do well to ask for firearms aficionados to help to volunteer to show these guns clear, because clearly (pun intended), the folks I witnessed fooling around with these guns were about in over their heads. Of course, it will be a cold day in hell before any of the “noble” class as for help from the peasants in Chicago.
We would like to thank the City of Chicago and George Soros, or whoever underwrote this program for their generosity. We think it will result in a safer society, just not exactly in the way Mayor Daley would have you believe.
So, Guns Save Life ended up netting $1700 worth of MasterCards from the event after those who split their donations with the club were “paid” in cards. The club has sold a dozen of its own cards to members for cash.
The last five of the cards are going to be spent at Darrell’s Custom Guns in Cayuga, IN for two CZ bolt-action .22s to be given away to two lucky kids participating in the NRA Youth Shooting Camp coming up over the first weekend in August.
All of the money (and then some) will be spent purchasing ammo for the kids to use during the camp or the rifles. The camp, located in Bloomington at Darnall’s, is the longest running NRA Youth Shooting Camp in the nation.
NRA Youth Shooting Camps teach young people gun safety and safe and responsible firearm use. Kids get a chance to shoot shotguns, rifles, handguns, black powder guns, archery and so much more as instructed by State and/or NRA Certified Instructors (like me) and/or Olympic-level shooting coaches.
I’m proud to say that Guns Save Life is a major supporter of Darnall’s NRA Youth Shooting Camp, donating thousands of dollars in ammunition to shoot, firearms as prizes for the kids, and dozens of volunteers including numerous instructors and staff. I’m quite proud to say that I’m vice-president of the organization and couldn’t be prouder at what we’ve accomplished this last two weeks. We rounded up these guns on short notice, executed our plan to sell them to Chicago and converted the gun sale money into education for young people about the safe and responsible use of firearms.
It’s sweet poetic justice here for Mayor Daley’s CPD Gun Buy.
You accounting wizards have probably figured out that I didn’t turn in the personal defense pieces that I keep in my trunk, especially when going to dangerous places like Cook County. No, I love my Garand. There are many like it, but this one is mine. As is my Beretta.
And they sure weren’t getting the pistol in my fanny pack!
Labels: Gun Advocacy