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Church Members, Gun Advocates Compete For Gun Sales During Buyback

Gun buy back.JPG
BJ Austin, KERA

On Young Street in downtown Dallas a gun buyback on Saturday became a bidding war.

First Presbyterian Church was offering $50 for handguns and rifles; up to $200 for assault-style weapons. Church members raised money for the buyback. Across the street, in a parking lot gun enthusiasts organized by Collin Baker offered more money. Baker believes a buyback takes advantage of people trying to get rid of their firearms.

“It’s a lot less than they could get on an open market,” Baker observed. “Such as, a gentleman just drove in here and he was willing to take $50 for a pistol he had. He sold it for $120.  And then they go into a good home. They go into a safe. They go into a collector’s collection.”

Reverend Bruce Buchanan, organizer of the buy back, says given the high profile debate over gun control, the counter offer did not surprise him.

“There’s a lot of irony,” Buchanan noted. “But it’s a beautiful day and we are very thankful that there are people that have come to this side of the street and are supporting the buy back.”

One of those was Scott Mankoff. He’s a gun owner with a conceal and carry permit. But, he wanted to get rid of a rifle – making sure no one else would ever use it.

“You have to worry about people who can access guns who don’t have a carry license and aren’t legally carrying the weapon,” Mankoff said. “I have a gun on me right now. I just turned one it. I figure the less guns on the street, the better.”

Mankoff came to the buyback because of the Sandy Hook school shootings.

“Yeah, I think it messed everybody up,” Mankoff said. “You know, I’ve seen stuff on the news where one woman said I sent two kids to school to day and only one came home.  Man, if that doesn’t make you cry, what will?” 

Ray Ragsdale of Dallas says he agreed to take less money for his gun at the church’s buyback because it had the right spirit.

“Well, I never use it anymore. I just used to use it for target practice, you know down in the country when I used to go to my Mom’s.  Everybody’s passed away. I don’t have any people living in the country now.  It’s just sitting in the closet.  And I paid $50 for it 20 years ago, so I’m getting my money back.”

But, money talks and Collin Baker, standing in the bed of a pickup, helped match buyers and sellers.   

“It sat in the closet for a long time guys,” Baker told the crowd. “This gun is sad, lonely. They were going to go over there and euthanize it. We’ve got to rescue this firearm right here, a Ruger 270.”

The man selling the rifle was originally in line at the buyback.  But after a few minutes, he turned around and walked across the street.  He would not say why. 

Bill Houda bought the rifle for $300.00. He says he’s a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. He will give the rifle to his son.

“I’m not a big gun collector, but I wanted him to have his own deer rifle.  So, now he does. Tomorrow, he turns 17,” Houda said holding the rifle in one hand and his dog’s leash in the other.

When both sides tallied their transactions, Baker and the gun advocates claimed more than 20 sales. Reverend Bruce Buchanan said the church bought back five times that: 111 weapons.   Those guns will be destroyed.