On Saturday, Cleveland police held their annual gun buyback program outside a former municipal building on Payne Avenue.
This year, police were offering $100 gas, Target or Dave’s Supermarket gift cards, tickets to see the Cleveland Cavaliers or Lake Erie Monsters and a chance to win $1,000 all for the community’s unwanted firearms.
But as tempting as that offer was, there was another offer on the table, so to speak.
That is, a group of gun owners and collectors stood nearby, offering would-be participants cash for guns. As they say about any transaction, “cash is king.”
For one reason or another, this pissed off Cleveland’s finest.
“Isn’t that something?” Police Chief Michael McGrath, who was working the event, told the Plain Dealer.
“Here we’re trying to save lives and they’re right in our face, trying to buy guns cheap so they can sell them at a profit.”
Of course, what they were doing wasn’t illegal. As private buyers they have every right to purchase those unwanted firearms so long as they are responsible citizens with no criminal history.
But this didn’t stop the police from giving them a hard time.
One buyer, who gave the Plain Dealer a faux name ‘Nope’” was holding a sign that read: CASH FOR FIREARMS.
Cleveland Police Lt. Brandon Kutz confronted Nope, and said, “Got a vendor’s license?”
Nope’s response was very apropos, “Nope,” he said.
The Lieutenant told him to throw away the sign and “Cross the street away from here, I’m not gonna bother you.”
Nope trashed the sign but stayed put. He told the Plain Dealer a little about his background. He said he was a graduate student in computer science and a long-time gun collector who began shooting at the age of 8.
Later, when a car stopped an inquired about whether this was the site of the buyback event, Nope said, “Drive around the block I’ll make you a cash offer.”
This did not go over well with Kurz, who yelled, “Get away from there,” as he paced up the sidewalk toward Nope’s location.
Nope ended up leaving the area.
“Two worlds colliding,” Kutz said, referencing the buyback participants and the private buyers. “Can’t have that.”
Can’t have that? Really, why? Why can’t sellers of unwanted firearms and law-abiding purchasers coexist?
In fact, it seems that if the Police were smart about this, they would embrace responsible gun buyers and incorporate them into the event somehow (maybe by holding an auction or an open biding for coveted guns).
Also, it should be noted that a similar situation occurred in Detroit. Police were holding a buyback event and gun collectors and purchasers showed up holding signs “Cash for Guns.” They, too, were bullied by police (for more on this click here).