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Lodi Police Department buys back $11,000 in guns from residents

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Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013 2:54 pm

How long does it take one police department to purchase $11,000 in used guns? About three hours. 

Officers with the Lodi Police Department transformed a Church Street parking lot into a drive through gun sales depot early Saturday morning for the first-ever Gun Buy Back in Lodi.

“The line was three blocks long before we opened,” said Lt. Fernando Martinez at 9 a.m. “I think we’re going to go through that money easily.”

A line of cars wound around the Fire Station 1 and City Hall parking lots, guided by Lodi Police Partners and cadets. 

“It got the community’s attention. Soon as the gates opened, the parking lot started filling,” said Police Chief Mark Helms. “This buyback is $20,000 to get guns off the street.” 

The money came from a California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention grant.

The last four homicides in Lodi were committed by gang members using stolen guns, said Helms. Those guns are often taken during burglaries when guns are not properly locked up. 

“It’s another example of how the chief and the department are thinking outside of the box,” said Councilman Bob Johnson, who stopped by with coffee in hand to check out the event. 

Sellers remained in their cars for the entire transaction, with the gun and any ammunition locked in the trunk. No personal information was recorded, but officers did check that each seller lived in the Lodi area. 

Officers removed the guns from each car and passed them to the Lodi Police Range Masters, the department’s gun experts. The masters checked that each gun wasn’t reported lost or stolen, and determined whether the firearm was functional. Inoperative guns went for $25, while working handguns, shotguns and rifles went for $100. Working assault weapons went for $200. 

Sellers were paid cash. Each gun was loaded into a cart then hauled away for destruction. Guns are cut in half then melted down. 

Just under 60 cars lined up to turn in 117 guns. At least five people waited to turn in just ammunition, though more was turned in with gun sales. 

A few interesting firearms were turned in. One was a .38 caliber Colt Police Positive, manufactured in the early 1900’s. The police department plans to track down the agency the gun was originally issued to before destroying it, said Brucia. 

A Chinese-made A-K 47 assault rifle, TEC-9 and TEC-22 semi-automatic handguns and an Armsel Striker assault shotgun that is more commonly known as a street sweeper were also among the pile slated for destruction.

Don Armstrong waited in line in a pickup truck to turn in a 40 year old pistol.

“It doesn’t work well, and it’s dangerous. I want to get rid of it,” he said. 

Paul Emerson waited patiently, but he had no firearms in his car. 

“I’ve just got some ammunition, some shells. I want to get rid of it,” he said. Officers accepted ammunition at the event, but paid no money for it. 

John, who declined to give his last name, turned in a handgun. 

“I live in a bad neighborhood, and I’m afraid I’d have to use it at some point, then I’d be in trouble,” he said. 

Bob Hoffman was turning in an old .22 rifle of his father’s. 

“My dad passed a few years ago, and the gun was handed down to me. It’s just been sitting under the bed,” he said. “I don’t own any others.”

On the corner of Pine and Pleasant, a man with a cowboy hat and a white mustache stood holding a sign that read “Buying Guns to Protect My Family.”

“I’m trying to pick up some firearms for self-protection,” said Gary Fraley, a bankruptcy attorney from Sacramento. “People are getting pretty desperate out there.”

Before entering the line up for the police buy back, each seller drove past this sign, and a few stopped to talk with the man and sell him their guns. 

Fraley said he had permission from the police to hold his sign and ask people to sell their guns to him instead. 

“We don’t need to be adversaries,” he said. “They can buy more guns with their money if some people sell to me. It gets more guns out of people’s hands.”

Another private buyer, who gave his name as Jeff, said he was there to prevent antique guns from being destroyed. 

“Most people are probably bringing junk, but if there’s anything good, I want to save it,” he said. 

The masters checking the guns also looked for antique guns or firearms with historical value, and gave the seller the option to keep it. 

“We don’t want to take those priceless guns from people,” said Helms.

The rush slowed down at 11 a.m. to one car every fifteen minutes or so, according to Sgt. Sierra Brucia.

“We did pretty well getting some assault rifles off the streets,” said Brucia. The rest of the money will be held until 2014 for another buyback event. 

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com

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  • Deb Perrelli posted at 8:27 am on Thu, Apr 25, 2013.

    Deltadeb Posts: 2

    Joanne, do you really think that gangbangers buy their guns from legit brokers? They buy from black market or steal them.... All these new gun laws and regulations, even the background checks are just making the black market fatter!

  • Quan Pham posted at 11:46 am on Wed, Apr 24, 2013.

    qpham63 Posts: 31

    It is only the law abiding and safety concious people that turns in old defective and posibly dangerous fire arms that are not wanted. None of that fits the population segment that are currently comitting the crimes.

    Gun control and Gun buy back only act to reduce the number of guns in law abiding citizens it does nothing to reduce the number of firearms that are in the hands of criminals.

  • Quan Pham posted at 11:43 am on Wed, Apr 24, 2013.

    qpham63 Posts: 31

    How useful was this expenditure of Tax Payer's funds?

    This is what Law Enforcement officers has to say.


  • roy bitz posted at 10:39 pm on Tue, Apr 23, 2013.

    roy bitz Posts: 489

    I love that virtually every comment here is a common sense comment.
    So smart to set in front of the police to buy high value guns and I suppose assault guns at a small premium to the police offer .
    Cash for clunker guns. What a great concept.

  • Mike Adams posted at 6:25 pm on Tue, Apr 23, 2013.

    Mike Adams Posts: 1271

    Actually Joanne, you can't actually buy a gun and take it home that day, even at a gun show in CA. You'd still have to wait for 10 days and pass the background check. Unless you have a Federal Firearms License (FFL) or a Certificate of Eligiblity (COE), you wait 10 days. CA is far more strict than neighboring Nevada where you actually can buy a gun from someone in the parking lot.

    And again, technically, they wouldn't be buying an "assult weapon", to do so would mean it would have a combination of features. A gun with those "features" would have to be registered as an assault weapon. I know of only one person who actually has a registered "assault weapon". Everyone else modified theirs to avoid the registration requirement.

    Also, even though they make the news, "assault weapons" are rarely used in normal crimes. Mostly it's handguns because they're easier to conceal.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 11:22 am on Tue, Apr 23, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4308

    Did any gang members trade in their guns ?

    Probably...then they raced up to Cal Expo and bought assault weapons with the cash they got from the buy-back.

    No background check needed thanks to the 46 cowards in the Senate who are hiding behind the mountains of cash they get from the NRA and arms manufacturing industry to do just what they did last week - kill ANY gun legislation!

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 11:17 am on Tue, Apr 23, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4308

    Could be this guy is a felon who shouldn't be in possession of a gun anyway.

    After all, he didn't want to give his full (or real) name.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 9:29 am on Tue, Apr 23, 2013.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2255

    I wonder though if the license plate of each vehicle wasn't recorded. I cannot imagine that handguns went directly to the destruction bin without first checking to see if it might have been used in the commission of a crime.

  • robert maurer posted at 12:44 pm on Mon, Apr 22, 2013.

    mason day Posts: 437


  • Mike Adams posted at 9:59 am on Mon, Apr 22, 2013.

    Mike Adams Posts: 1271

    While the LPD was buying junk guns in Lodi, ammunition, firearms, and firearms related accessroies were flying out the door at Cal Expo this weekend. High cap mag rebuilds (even the Surefire 60 round mags) were available for sale as were 100 rd. drums for AR's. Rebuild kits of course.

    Did any gang members trade in their guns under the California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention grant.? Waiting.....waiting..... No! Legal, law abiding citizen's......Yes.

    I've got an old clunker or two that I would never trade in for even $200 each.

  • Arthur Vandelay posted at 9:06 am on Mon, Apr 22, 2013.

    Arthur Vandelay Posts: 29

    Because we should all *want* to get into a gunfight and kill and/or be killed, right?

  • Robert Jacobs posted at 8:10 am on Mon, Apr 22, 2013.

    Robert Jacobs Posts: 298

    This is all feel good BS... It won't make a dent in the gun violence.... Where do we find the people who think up this crap?

  • Mike Adams posted at 7:56 am on Mon, Apr 22, 2013.

    Mike Adams Posts: 1271

    If someone insisted on turning in a historical firearm, let's say a 1873 Colt, does anyone really believe it went under the torch? Maybe a nice double rifle in 416 Rigby?
    Gen. Patton's pearl handeled Colt 45's?

    I wonder, if I had a FFL (Federal Firearms License), could I run my own buy back program offering slightly more money than the LPD is? Just asking. Maybe planning.

  • Jackson Scott posted at 7:35 am on Mon, Apr 22, 2013.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 382

    LPD should would have asked the people turning in their guns to fill out a brief survey so they can analyze the true effectiveness of the gun buy back program.

    No names, but a simple half page survey with general info: race, age, income range, neighborhood (slice city into 6 sections), and do you own any other guns at home.

    I highly doubt that many people living in the SE or NE sections of town turned in many guns.

    And John is going to resent turning in his gun one day.

  • Marc Yates posted at 7:02 am on Sun, Apr 21, 2013.

    MWYates Posts: 22

    Here is the quote I love: "I live in a bad neighborhood, and I’m afraid I’d have to use it at some point, then I’d be in trouble,” he said.

    He may be in trouble if he doesn't use it.

    Logic is a terrible thing to waste.



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