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MSP announces guns from buyback programs will now be destroyed

Posted at 10:59 PM, Mar 12, 2024

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — After months of pushback, Michigan State Police announced Tuesday that they are changing how they dispose of guns collected in buyback programs.

The programs have become more popular in recent years in some Michigan communities, which host these events to collect unwanted firearms in exchange for gift cards. Many were told those weapons would be destroyed.

However, while the guns were technically destroyed to standards set by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the company police contracted with was actually breaking down the weapons and selling some of the parts in kits.

“It's kind of disappointing to be duped like that,” said Francois Eudier, who attended a gun buyback event at his church, St. David's Episcopal Church in Southfield. "When I found out they weren't going to be destroyed, that put a thorn in my backside.”

As a CPL holder and firearm owner, Eudier has a number of guns, which he keeps, but he also had some he no longer wanted. He decided he would put them out of circulation by bringing them to a gun buyback event at his church.

“I brought a couple guns in," Eudier recalled. "Brought a long rifle and a handgun.”

Eudier intended for the guns to be destroyed as the event advertised. But that’s not entirely what happened.

“It doesn't make sense to me," Eudier said. "If you're going to donate a gun for it to be destroyed, it should be destroyed.”

In December, his church learned the guns turned over to state police from buybacks are sent to a company that legally destroys them but keeps parts and sells them in kits. That came as a surprise to the church’s rector who helped organize the events.

“When we first learned that guns said to be destroyed were in fact being recycled, we were livid,” The Very Rev. Chris Yaw said. "‘There are a significant number of people in our community who have unwanted guns and want them destroyed. They don't want them sold to a gun dealer, don't want them sold to anyone else.”

Yaw's church, St David's Episcopal Church in Southfield, has collected hundreds of guns during buybacks since 2022 including 224 at an event in December.

“The reason we take guns here is because people legitimately don't know where to take them," Yaw said. “We think it’s part of what Jesus asks us to do to be a good neighbor. When there's a community need out there that’s not being met, we believe it’s the church's role to step in.”

After pushing Michigan State Police for changes, the department announced that guns collected from buybacks in the state will now be sent to a scrap metal facility in Jackson to be completely destroyed with an industrial pulverizer.

“This new method will improve public safety by ensuring all parts of a firearm are destroyed, never to be used again, and continue to meet the ATF’s acceptable destruction procedures, as we always have,” director of the MSP Col. James F. Grady II said in a news release. “I’m pleased we were able to find a cost-effective alternative method that allows for the full destruction of the firearm.”

In the release, MSP says they will have to pay for additional staff costs with this new method but do not have to pay for use of the pulverizer. After being pulverized, the metal from the guns will be melted down and recycled into flat roll steel coils.

“We've raised so much awareness on this issue that I think Michigan State Police has changed their thoughts on how they’re going to get rid of the guns,” Eudier said. "It woke everybody up.”

“The Michigan State Police with this decision has, I think, made a really good call and decided to completely destroy the weapon,” Yaw said. “This decision helps donors feel a little bit more comfortable that their guns are going to be taken out of circulation.”

The church plans to hold their next buyback event on June 15.