Seattle police are tracking down the history of a nonfunctional missile launcher that showed up at a weapons buyback program.
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.
According to police, saturday’s gun buyback event collected 716 guns in less than four hours, including 348 pistols and 364 rifles. Among the weapons turned in were three “street sweepers,” shotguns that include a high capacity magazine capable of holding twelve 12-gauge shotgun shells. The city handed out $68,000 in gift cards.
“There was clearly a lot of pent up demand for a gun buyback. I’m pleased that so many people were able to safely dispose of unwanted guns,” said Seattle mayor Mike McGinn.
Despite the presence of private buyers near the event site, very few members of the public chose to sell their weapons, preferring to participate in the gun buyback event. State law permits private gun sales between Washington State residents without a background check, even though background checks are mandated for retail gun sales.
The last gun buyback in Seattle took place in 1992. Over 1,200 guns were collected over four days.