North Carolina held another gun buyback program on Saturday in Winston Salem. This is the second one the city has held this year and this time the city bought 111 firearms before they ran out of money.
The first buyback brought in 364 firearms and combined, both buybacks cost the city $25,000. And I’m willing to bet that not one of the ones turning in the guns was a criminal who planned to use that gun illegally before he heard about a gun buyback program that would give him mere pennies to the dollar for what it was worth.
But that’s besides the point. In this case, the police ran out of money before the event was even scheduled to begin. Well, they were actually giving out gift cards, but before 9am they were all gone with plenty of people left with guns.
And so it was time for the private buyers to help the situation and boost the economy. But Winston Salem police stopped that from ever happening and cited an obscure law to keep law abiding citizens from owning these guns. From “Ruger” at opencarry.org:
It was a bust. We arrived at 8:55. From 3 different entrances into the neighborhood, cars were lined up for the event & officers were approaching the vehicles. The first words out of the officer’s mouth were “We’re all out of money.” This was 5 minutes before the scheduled start time. The officer was insistent that they don’t want anyone getting out of their vehicles. I explained our intent & my interpretation of the law in that we would not be doing anything illegal. The cop was polite, but admitted point-blank that they don’t want other people taking the guns that are being brought here.
I appealed to him, “Look – y’all are out of money & it’s obvious that there are lots more people here with guns they don’t want. I ain’t here to cause trouble. To the best of my knowledge there’s nothing illegal about what I intend to do. I just figure maybe there’s some blue haired old lady with her husband’s old WWII 1911 or service revolver who doesn’t know what she’s got & doesn’t want it anymore. I’m a gun owner. I have no criminal record. I like guns and I like bargains. I’d love to give a good home to an unwanted gun or two.”
He called his supervisor over. I went through the same thing with him. He asked if I am a dealer (no). Eventually he agreed that we could stand on the corner and attempt to purchase from the folks who were showing up, “since you have a permit.”
Me: “Huh? Permit?”
Supervisor: “You do have a solicitation permit, right?”
Me: “No. Never heard of such a thing.”
Supervisor: “In Winston Salem you have to have a solicitation permit in order to stand on public property in attempt to buy/sell.”
Me: “Nice.” [sarcasm]
That ended it for us. That neighborhood was crawling with cops. I didn’t drive there to get arrested for failing to have a solicitation permit. I Googled it – WSPD *does* arrest folks for violating this law. The permit does exist.
I figure since this is the 3rd such event the city has held in the last year, and since this one was such a smashing success (in their view), there’s bound to be another one. So next time when my buddy & I show up we will have permits to solicit.
I wish this entire interaction were recorded somehow, but it looks like the police wanted all the control over the guns here and using a solicitation law to do it was their tactic that day.
Most cities do have a peddlers license requirement for conducting business in public places, but it’s doubtful a court would see this case as a violation of that law. Without any case studies to note, it would have been interesting to see how this would have played out.
But with a struggling economy in North Carolina you would think the police would be more than happy to allow private buyers to give these people money, and I’m sure they would have gotten more than what was on those piddly gift cards too.