Charm City Cash for Guns Extravaganza! The 2018 Baltimore "Buyback"

Baltimore City kindly offers, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

     Back in 2013 just as the push for gun control nationwide was heating up and before our beloved Firearms Safety Act of 2013, I managed to buy some 20rd magazines for an AR15 for $3 a piece. They were very, very cheap mags not known for their reliability or sturdiness, but did kinda work. They seldom went to the range with me, mostly relegated to a storage box neglected. These weren’t being kept for defense or for training. Just placeholders for a rainy day.

30 Caliber Ghost Clips

     Fast forward to December 2018 and as fortune would have it, the Baltimore Police Department announced a “gun buyback” (buyback is a cute term, but more on that later) that would take place just before the holidays. It’s their first in six years. Curious, I checked the link on the BPD twitter and was floored with what I saw.

     BPD was shelling out $500 for fully-automatic firearms (No loss on investment there!), $200 for semi-automatic rifles and pistols, $100 for other long guns and revolvers, and $25 per “hi-capacity” magazines. Aside from the price on full-autos, the other gun prices were pretty typical of many of these events in others cities, but that price on mags really stood out. $25 for any magazine over 10-rounds? Holy cow. I’m about to be a wealthy man!

     A couple of days after BPD made their original post, it seemed I wasn’t the only one as excited about potentially doubling my entire roster of magazines with the earnings from their generous payout. Enough people must have called in asking them about a limit because the BPD updated their site to say that mags are now limited to two per person. Still, that’s $50 for mags I spent $6 on years ago. Pretty awesome, though I still didn’t know how the $50 was being paid out.


     On my lunch break, I headed over to 1601 Pennsylvania Ave at the Shake & Bake Family Fun Center for my nearly free money. I parked about a block away among a lot of BPD vehicles, including their mobile command unit and some other unmarked vehicles. With the potential for so many people to be stopping in Druid Heights with guns and leaving with money, the presence of so many officers made sense. A handful of officers stood at the entrance, some in tactical uniforms sans helmets and scary rifles. An officer waved me over to the handicap ramp to the entrance. Guided by the ramp and some concert venue style fences, I headed into the lobby. Inside were more fences snaking back and forth, making a pretty easy labyrinth. Another officer greeted me as I made like Pac-Man. There were a dozen or so people ahead of me, some holding shoe boxes and others with trash bags with wooden gun stocks peaking out. A few of the attendees were in their work uniforms and presumably on their lunch breaks, just like me. One-by-one, an officer and a cadet waved each of us into the main room where they were processing the firearms and magazines. Only 5 or minutes go by before I’m called to enter. In the room were three tables with one for taking in firearms, another for writing claim tickets, and the last one with cashiers. Behind all were even more (a ton more) BPD personnel in all flavors of police garb handling the freshly minted armory of misfit guns, just out of sight.

     Two tactical officers stood at the firearms table. On it, next to where I’d be handled, was an old single-shot break-action shotgun with a wooden stock. Someone was getting $100 for it, probably more than they’d ever get selling it anywhere else. “What do you have?” The officer on the left side of the table looked at the little white box I had brought in and I handed it over. “Two spooky, scary 20-round magazines.” He opened it and inspected the two boxy pieces of plastic. “Two twenties,” he says to the officer at the next table over who had a stack of pre-printed papers with boxes for each of the items they were offering payment for. She puts a check-mark in the “Hi-Cap Magazine” box and writes “x2” below and hands the paper to me with a smile. 

Dolla dolla bill y'all

     At the cashiers table were two people in suits with small Sentry-safes in front of them. One of them takes the slip from me and the other counts out $50 in crisp, new $20 and $5 Federal Reserve Notes from the safe. BPD never disclosed how people would be paid. I had read stories of other buybacks paying in debit cards, grocery vouchers, or gift certificates, but this is really the first I knew of that issued actual cash. Safe to say no one was complaining. “Who’s paying for this?” One of the well-dressed men issuing the cash looks up and kindly tells me he doesn’t know. He hands the $50 over to me and I tuck the greenbacks into my jacket. Quite satisfied, I headed back to my office with cash ready to spend on much, much better magazines. 

     These “buybacks” are silly in so many ways. That name, “buyback.” Our guns and mags didn’t come from the BPD, the City of Baltimore, Maryland, or anywhere else other than a manufacturer and dealer. They’re items we explicitly have a right to own and use. Sure, Maryland issues a “Not Disapproved” for handgun purchases after going thru a one-of-a-kind licensing scheme, but we have the right to them nonetheless and that right did not come from the government. Beyond naming, one has really gotta wonder what the point of this is. As I witnessed, a lot of people were bringing in guns that are old, barely functioning if at all, expendable, and more than likely not ever relied upon for self-defense. As is the case with me, most of these folks were likely looking for some extra scratch to better their firearm collection or some money for Christmas gifts or in this resident’s case, a bigger gun.

Not all heroes wear capes

   Kathleen Cairns, a journalist for Fox45 Baltimore reported that Baltimore is spending $250,000 for their three buyback days and the money is coming from the city’s general fund. Remember this the next time the city says it cannot heat its schools…


-Danny C-W

Tags: baltimore, buyback

Latest News

Court Uphold's MD's Taking of Rapid Fire Trigger Activators


In a sharply split, 2-1 decision, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held that Maryland may ban the possession of "Rapid Fire Trigger Activators" by existing owners without paying just compensation under Fifth Amendment or the Maryland Constitution.  The majority ruled that no just compensation was owed to existing, lawful owners because the ban “does not require owners of rapid fire trigger activators to turn them over to the Government or to a third party.”  In short, as far as this majority is concerned, the State is free to ban the possession of any personal property without paying just compensation unless the State puts the property into its own pocket or the pocket of a third party.  If that is the law, then no personal property, of any kind, is safe from the grasping clutches of the General Assembly.  For example, the State could ban possession of your existing car and not pay a dime.  The dissenting opinion ably demolishes the majority's reasoning.  Needless to say, we will be seeking further review.

You can read the ruling HERE.  Stay tuned.

Maryland Shall Issue will continue to fight for the interests and rights of its members and the public, but to do so requires resources and your help. Consider joining or donating to MSI.

Background Checks for Firearms Purchases and Licenses Interrupted

Due to a systems failure on the morning of June 21st within the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections Services (DPSCS), the Maryland State Police (MSP) was no longer able to complete background checks for Handgun Qualification Licenses (HQL), regulated firearms transfers (77R transfers), and Wear and Carry Permit background investigations. DPSCS have since restored their systems and the MSP have been processing background checks as fast as they can. We appreciate the efforts of the State Police to remedy the backlog as quickly as possible, though the bureaucratic processes created by the General Assembly compounds these issues for Marylanders who are merely trying to protect themselves.

From the MSP:

Background Checks Underway After Data System Restored

(PIKESVILLE, MD) — Maryland State Police Licensing Division employees worked throughout the night and will continue to work around-the-clock to address pending regulated firearm purchase applications after a state data system was restored late yesterday.

At about 8:30 p.m. yesterday, the State Police Licensing Division was notified by officials at the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services that the data system had been restored and access to background check information was available.  Employees at the Licensing Division immediately began completing background check investigations on the regulated firearm purchase applications that had been pending since a system failure occurred on June 21st.

Licensing Division employees worked throughout the night and will continue to work around-the-clock until all pending and incoming regulated firearm purchase applications have been reviewed and are being completed within Maryland’s required seven day waiting period.  Even with employees working 24-hours-a-day to address this, the process is anticipated to take several days to complete.  The Licensing Division continues to work with Maryland’s licensed firearms dealers to track any regulated firearm released after the waiting period, but before full completion of the background check process.

As of 4:00 p.m. yesterday, information from Maryland firearms dealers indicated that of the 893 firearm purchase applications eligible for release, 54 regulated firearms had been released to customers after the seven day waiting period had passed.  The individuals receiving those firearms were the first ones background checks were conducted on during the night.  There were no prohibiting factors found for any of those applicants.

As far as we know, there's no evidence or information to suggest that anyone's personal information was comprimised while the systems were down and none of the applicants whose dealer released firearms to them failed or would have failed background checks.

While the MSP have asked the Dealers to hold off on releasing any regulated firearms (handguns) until the checks completed, dealers may release regulated firearms on the 8th day after a transaction at their discretion. From the MSP's latest advisory on 6/25:

Should the RFD elect to exercise their statutory option to release a regulated firearm on the eighth day, we ask that the procedure listed below be followed:

1. The RFD will access their Licensing Portal;
2. locate the application to be released within the “SUBMITTED APPLICATIONS” section;
3. print a copy of the application;
4. verify that all information in “Section 4” is accurate;
5. both the RFD and the applicant will sign and complete “Section 6;”
6. scan and send the completed copy of the 77R to .

Additional Coverage:
Maryland Handgun Background Check System Crashes, Leaving Gun Buyers in Limbo - Washington Free Beacon
Citing a ‘catastrophic hardware failure,' Maryland State Police report delays in gun background checks and licenses - Baltimore Sun
Guns sold without completed background checks in Maryland - WUSA9
After ‘Catastrophic Hardware Failure,’ Dozens Of Guns Were Released Without Completed Background Checks In Maryland - WAMU

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Baltimore, MD 21234-2150

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