City of Flint to offer cash for guns at buyback event while state police work on destruction solution

By Kate Stockrahm

The City of Flint Police Department will offer residents cash for guns turned in during a gun bounty event on Feb. 3, 2024.

The buyback, which will take place from 12 to 5 p.m. at Cathedral of Faith Church, is the first the city will host since a New York Times investigation found that some companies contracted to destroy guns after such events end up destroying just the regulated segments of the firearms and selling the remainder for reuse.

Formerly, the city’s process was to turn over collected guns to Michigan State Police (MSP) after its bounty events for destruction. 

However, since the Times found MSP was contracting with the company at the center of its investigation, Gunbusters, MSP is reevaluating that destruction program.

“The MSP has temporarily paused the disposal of any firearms while we explore other options that may be available for firearm disposal,” Lori Dougovito of MSP’s Communications and Outreach Division told EVM over email on Jan. 31.

Dougovito did not elaborate when asked what other solutions are being considered or when MSP anticipates an alternative option will be determined.

Both in the Times’ article and directly to EVM, the city has maintained it was unaware MSP’s program did not ensure full destruction of the guns municipalities across the state turned in. 

Stack of guns collected in September, 2020 buyback. (Photo courtesy City of Flint)

City of Flint Communications Director Caitie O’Neill said the city’s police department will hold on to guns turned in on Saturday, and it remains in possession of guns from September and December gun bounty events while a path forward is sorted out.

“We will continue to advocate for MSP to identify a statewide solution,” O’Neill wrote to EVM on Jan. 31.

According to a Jan. 22 press release on the upcoming buyback, the city’s gun bounty program targets weapons that cause “the most harm” and offers residents the street value of weapons that are in working condition. Flint’s program does not accept inoperable guns that do not pose an immediate threat to public safety.

In response to the Times’ findings, Mayor Sheldon Neeley said that the city remains under his 2021 declaration of a gun violence emergency “and has seen a 40% decrease in homicides since that time.”

Further, he said, “Reselling parts to create new guns that could end up on any street, whether in Flint or any other city, defeats everything that we are trying to do to curb gun violence, which continues to devastate our community.

“When I learned that the guns Flint turned over to Michigan State Police were not being incinerated, I informed MSP that we would hold all confiscated and surrendered weapons until another destruction method could be identified,”  Neeley said. “I am pleased that MSP has made the decision to pause their current contract, and we look forward to resuming our collaboration once they find a suitable solution.”

Author: East Village Magazine

A Non-profit, Community News Magazine Since 1976

Share This Post On