Scenes from the Dallas Gun Buy-Back

Here’s the video. Big thank you to Amanda Warr at BestofTexas who did all the heavy lifting on this.

Owing to the limits of video — and my own ham-fisted interview style on video — here’s some extended remarks we both agreed on for before you watch the video that gives a little more context.

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The question that started this all was what makes Dallas safer when it comes to guns. Is it people disarming themselves? Is it people arming themselves?

We both had our preconceived notions about the answer when we started. And our preconceived notions about the people who would show up – whatever their motivations.

Instead we met the councilman behind the buyback who told us “You have to own guns.” We met people like Don Pogue and Curtis Jackson, who were just getting rid of old junk they had while keeping their good firearms at home. We met gun lovers like Bryan Wendt, looking to make buyback attendees a better offer, but who on seeing the condition of most of what was turned in, said, “Most of this stuff should be destroyed. You can’t have people relying on these old pieces.” (He encouraged them to buy better arms.) And we had a gun poseur who couldn’t tell a piece of history from a piece of shit.

Here’s the video and our extended concluding remarks, which weren’t clear as we’d like in the first version of this. (We’ll have a higher res version up later.)

The fact is, one more gun turned in isn’t going to make the city of Dallas better. Sure, it could be stolen and used in a crime. Just as likely it could be used in defense. And one more gun kept isn’t going to make Dallas any better, either. It may be used to protect someone. It may also be used by a kid because some dolt didn’t know how to properly store it.

Then we met Sonya Whitaker. She told us how she was turning in an old rusty revolver her granddad gave her that was useless. Her South Oak Cliff house had been burglarized twice, and she didn’t want some criminal getting it.

She also told us the police weren’t doing enough in South Oak Cliff to combat crime, and maybe turning in this old useless lump of iron might show good faith.

Sonya mused that if perhaps she showed that good faith, then perhaps her city would show faith in her community and patrol a little more often.

She complained about how the city told her neighbors they should hire off-duty cops for security – which sounds an awful lot like a mob scam more than a city service.

Sonya is a second generation Oak Cliffer. She went to college and works at a Dallas hospital. She made sure her son is going to college. She has no intention of moving out of Oak Cliff no matter how well she does. She’s taking a stand. She’s putting pressure on the police to do something. She’s involved in her community. Would she be safer if she owned a better gun and knew how to use it? Maybe. But since she couldn’t and probably wouldn’t bring it to where she works and she’s been burglarized twice — maybe not.

Sonya’s staying and fighting to make her little piece better. She’s staying where middle class people are needed most, trying to turn her neighborhood around. And she’s starting at home, with her son.

You know who is going to make Dallas better and safer? Not politicians, not police, not gun owners, and not anti-gun wieners.

It’s people like Sonya.

(Personal note: An unfired, still-in-the-box Colt 1911 .45 pistol was turned in before I could bid on it. It is slated to be euthanized. I’m holding a memorial at 4 p.m. today. Send flowers.)

Comments

  1. Amanda Warr says:

    This was a ton of fun and i know we both certainly learned a lot, you in particular…for example, you learned to stop calling me Ann.

    Seriously, I look forward to our next adventure, but can we go somewhere warm next time?

  2. Bear says:

    Outstanding work, especially for someone who isn’t in broadcast media!

  3. Thanks to you and Amanda for coming through. btw, I know the diff b/t an Uzi & a Tec. I was glad to see a Tec come in because the lack of quality can make it really dangerous IMO.

    We have a very active and effective police force in South Oak Cliff.
    I’m not sure where Ms. Whitaker lives, but she is free to contact me personally if she needs her help in her area. I hope she sees your post and drops me a line.

  4. Mr Fixit says:

    Interesting video. After talking to us in the parking lot I see that DPD admitted there was no ordinance against selling and buying there.

    So, DPD lied to us? Why I wonder?

  5. kYle says:

    R.I.P., Colt 1911 : (

  6. Bryan Wendt says:

    Nice work Trey. I’m the guy in the orange UT hoodie. Not to horn in on your territory, but it got interesting out there about 11:30. I have written about the whole experience and will send it to you tonight. See if D Mag wants it! or just let me know your thoughts.

    Bryan Wendt

  7. Tom says:

    Our neighborhood has been using the “off-duty cops for security” method for about a year now. It works well, but because we had enough neighbors pony up the cash to support it. The idea works in Northwest Dallas, but might not in South Oak Cliff.
    Crime has decreased in our neighborhood, but other areas have reported a spike and started hiring their own off-duty patrols. Nice work if you can get it, but our city needs to recognize the need for more on-duty cops on patrol is much more important than signature bridges and convention center hotels.

  8. Amy S says:

    Trey and Amanda great work and thanks for introducing us to Sonya. More! More!

  9. Peterk says:

    the 1911 model colt is why I don’t like these gun buybacks. a good firearm will be destroyed for what purpose?

    and as for the junk being turned in I’m not surprised.

  10. Bear says:

    Question about these off duty police doing neighborhood patrols: Does the Dallas area not have precinct Constables like they do in Harris County? The constables in Houston do the same thing as these off duty officers would be doing.

  11. Tom says:

    @Bear: We have constables. They occasionally drive through our NW Dallas neighborhood, but are mostly just seen setting speed traps in school zones. I’ve lived in Texas since 1997 and have yet to figure out what they are supposed to do, especially in urban counties that are already served by sheriff’s deputies and local police.

  12. TXMarko says:

    Great job, Trey & Amanda!

    I would like to see a followup on why there were major discrepancies (3 different versions?) on the law within the DPD rank & file on the legality of gun sales in the parking lot. If anyone should know the laws at Reunion it should be the Dallas Police Department, no?

    I would like to know what Bryan Wendt had to say concerning activities around 11:30 AM….

    Once again, thanks for reporting on such a cold day!

  13. Matt says:

    I’m cynical enough to think that there’s zero chance that the 1911 gets destroyed…

  14. Bear says:

    Tom, in Harris County, developers and neighborhood associations pay the constables’ office for enhanced patrol of their specific neighborhood. You dial 911 in most of Harris County, the odds are that the Constable will get there first.

  15. Ray May says:

    “I’m cynical enough to think that there’s zero chance that the 1911 gets destroyed…”

    I see someone has dealt with the Po-leece before.

  16. clamp says:

    I agree on the .45.

    It is likely alive and well in one of the police officers’ home.

    I saw this story on the evening news and was livid. I emailed Bud Gillet, the reporter on CBS 11 who covered the story. No response yet. Not holding my breath either.

    The report stressed how 147 guns were now “off the streets.” It seems apparent from the video above and the news story, which is still viewable at http://www.cbs11tv.com, that these guns were never “on the streets,” but were instead old or non-functioning firearms tucked away in peoples’ homes.
    I’m doubtful any gang members, thugs, or mexican cartel members were standing in line for $50 to Kroger.

    The city of Dallas spent $7,350.00 in grocery cards, plus the money to pay all the cops and city employees to attend, plus cost of advertising, etc. to buy-back at most $1000-2000 worth of firearms. Good thing all those cops were there and not patroling the streets.

  17. I saw the CBS 11 report too. I was disappointed Bud called that piece of shit Tec-9 a “sophisticated assault weapon” or some such nonsense.

    It’s a poorly designed 9mm semi-auto pistol. Nothing more.

  18. Amanda Warr says:

    oooh! ooh! Trey…go explain that to Limo guy Josh on my blog….pleeeeease?!

  19. Don Gwinn says:

    This kind of “buyback” is a lot easier to pull off in Illinois. Here the buyer and seller each need a FOID card, which now takes an average of 64 days to get (the law mandates 30 days, but the lawsuit hasn’t launched yet.) Without the FOID, it’s a felony to possess the gun or ammunition, much less try to sell it to some guy in a parking lot.

    Even if both parties can legally participate, there’s a 3-day waiting period for handguns and 1 day for long guns.

    So, if you were at a “buyback” in Peoria, and someone brought in a Colt 1911A1, you could offer him $500 instead of the $50 gift card. But he’s got to have a FOID card, or you’re both going to jail. And if he does, you’ve got to give him the money, he’s got to take a record of your FOID number, and then you’ve got to arrange to pick up the gun at least three full days later.

    All the police chief has to do is declare that there will be “no questions asked” and he can bypass all those laws . . . . but don’t try it yourself or you’re an instant felon.

    God Bless Texas.

  20. Woodrow Mom says:

    Nice piece, Trey and Amanda. I felt like I was there. Am going to bookmark this site.

  21. Raul says:

    Gun buy backs are ridiculous PR stunts.

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