I got an emailed press release from Mayor Wharton's office on Tuesday. It was headlined: "Gas, Groceries, or Games for Guns. No Questions Asked."
The email went on to offer details of an event being held at Hickory Ridge Mall on Saturday at 10 a.m. The deal, as spelled out in the press release, is as follows: "$50 gas or grocery card, or Grizzlies tickets, per person for each gun (limit 3 per individual)."
Something about this is a little off-putting. Especially the "no questions asked" part. Also the fact that it's obviously aimed at poor people. Fifty bucks isn't much money when you consider the price of a typical gun. I guess the supposition is that any gun being turned in for $50, no questions asked, is probably stolen or illegal and not being used for legitimate household protection. I wonder how the NRA feels about a government program that removes guns from the hands of poor people in a mostly black neighborhood. Talk about conflicted.
I did some research (coughwikipedia) into gun buy-back programs and discovered that other cities have offered much more for guns. Boston and San Francisco, for example, offered $200 apiece. (Or is that "a piece"?) It's also apparently not uncommon for private citizens to set up a buy-back facility near the official buy-back location and offer higher prices. That, I know the NRA would love.
Still, it seems unfair to target only poor people. Shouldn't we also be trying to buy back guns from middle-class and affluent Shelby Countians?
I say yes. And with that in mind, let me offer some, ahem, targeted incentives.
In Midtown, each person turning in a gun would receive their choice of the following: three dozen cupcakes from Gigi's, a one-day margarita tab at Chiwawa, a sidewalk table at Tsunami on a Friday night, VIP parking for a Levitt Shell concert, or a bike lane on your block, personally painted by Kyle Wagenschutz.
Downtown residents would get to choose from a free cornhole game set, a week's worth of "no questions asked" pooping privileges for your dog, being the Peabody Duckmaster for a day, 14 Arcade breakfasts, or an "I drank every beer" wall plate at Flying Saucer and five mentions in Paul Ryburn's blog.
In Germantown, residents could select from the following options: home gets coveted "Yard of the Month" award, "no questions asked" speeding privileges for a week, "unpoofable" commenting on the CA and Flyer websites for a month, a police-escorted trip into Midtown to eat at a real restaurant, or your very own school board.