The Seattle Police Department collected 716 guns and handed out $68,000 in gift cards in less than four hours at its gun buyback on Saturday.
The gun buyback in downtown Seattle near SPD headquarters collected a total of 716 guns, including 348 pistols and 364 rifles. Three "street sweepers" were also turned in, shotguns that include a high capacity magazine capable of holding twelve 12-gauge shotgun shells.
"Basically, this weapon can be shot as quickly as you can press the trigger," said Deputy Seattle Police Chief Nick Metz.
Rifles, handguns and shotguns were eligible for up to $100 in gift cards, and assault weapons were eligible for up to $200.
Only four of the guns had been reported stolen. Police still do not know if any were used in crimes. Most are old, but operable.
"I don't care if a gun is old or new. It's just as deadly," said King County Sheriff John Urquhart.
On Saturday, amid big crowds and long lines, a circus of street peddling popped up. Dozens of gun buyers came to snatch up guns before they made it into the hands of police.
"We had a gun bazaar break out on the streets of Seattle," said Mayor Mike McGinn.
McGinn said the street selling was legal and that shows the need for comprehensive background checks in Washington State.
"We saw guns changing hands with no idea whether the person buying that gun had the authority to own that gun under the law," said McGinn.
Police also bought, with a coupon, a nonfunctional missle launcher. On Monday, representatives from Joint Base Lewis McCord picked up the launcher to examine it.
The buyback closed early because of heavy demand. The last gun buyback in Seattle took place in 1992. Over 1,200 guns were collected over four days.
A total of $118,100 was pledged from private donors to fund the event. The Seattle Police Foundation, which acted as the financial coordinator for the event and donated $25,000, had a total of $80,500 available and chose to keep some money in reserve for a future event.
Donors included Amazon ($30,000), Nick and Leslie Hanauer ($25,000), UW Medical Center ($10,000), A Better Seattle, founded by Head Coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks ($10,000), and PEMCO ($5,000). Several members of the Seattle Nightlife and Music Association donated money and distributed fliers at their bars and clubs the evening before the buyback.