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Seattle gun buyback nets Stinger missile launcher (+video)

In Seattle, one man brought a used Stinger missile launcher to the weekend gun buyback program. In San Francisco, Trenton, and Seattle, gun buyback programs saw a surge of interest.

By StaffAssociated Press / January 28, 2013

Seattle Police Department Sgt. Paul Gracy (L) holds a missile launcher brought in during a gun buyback program in Seattle, Washington, on Saturday.

REUTERS/Nick Adams

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Seattle police are tracking down the history of a nonfunctional missile launcher that showed up at a weapons buyback program.

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Detective Mark Jamieson says a man standing outside the event on Saturday bought the military weapon for $100 from another person there. The single-use device had already been used. It's a launch tube assembly for a Stinger portable surface-to-air missile.

He says detectives will notify the Army Criminal Investigation Command on Monday.

Jamieson says the launcher is a controlled military item and that's not available to civilians through any surplus or disposal program offered by the government. He says it's most likely that the launch tube was previously obtained unlawfully from the military, and would likely be returned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The gun buyback in a parking lot in downtown Seattle was scheduled to go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but ended early because of the large crowd. Police say that after two hours, more than 160 guns had been turned in and $35,000 in gift cards had been distributed. Other buybacks are planned for later this year.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and other leaders have praised the buyback effort, saying it will reduce gun violence. But statistics show a previous effort in Seattle failed to do that.

In the six months after Seattle's 1992 gun buyback — the city's only other such effort — the average number of firearms-related homicides increased. The mean number of firearms-related assaults in Seattle also increased, as did the mean number of robberies with guns. Even the mean number of accidental shooting deaths more than doubled, according to data in a government journal.

The city has collected donations totaling nearly $120,000 to pay for a series of gun buyback events.

People will receive up to $100 gift cards for hand guns, shotguns and rifles, and up to $200 for assault weapons. Full gift card value will only be given for working weapons.

A number of cities nationwide have been holding gun buyback programs in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. The Christian Science Monitor reported last month that the city of Los Angeles, one of several municipalities to hold a gun buyback event since the Dec. 14 mass shooting in Newton, Conn., collected more than 2,000 firearms – a record, police officials reported.

In New Jersey, Mercer County officials say more than 2,500 weapons were turned in Saturday for cash during a two-day gun buyback program in the state's capital.

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