Then there are the big claims. They got 110 guns "off the street" including "two illegal guns." Wow. Here's a screen cap of WNEP's Jennifer Borrasso holding one of the "illegal guns" the program took in. Don't be afraid to look, it can't hurt you through the internet:
"Let's see . . . I got 'guns,' that's good . . . 'safe,' one more . . . .""Ooh! 'Operation!' That's a good one, Chief!"
"Thanks, Lou, I like your mustache. So what's our catchy new name?"
"Hmm . . . 'Guns Operation Safe' is nice."
"No, it's nonsense. How about 'Operation Gun Safe?'"
"We did that three years ago, and the gun nuts came out of the woodwork demanding free gun safes. Never again."
"OK, how about 'Operation Safe Guns' then?"
"Uh, Chief, are we doing anything about making the guns safer? I thought we were just collecting them and destroying the cheap ones Ralph doesn't want to take home?"
"You have a point . . . maybe we should throw the darts again and settle in. Might miss lunch,though."
"You know, Chief, 'Operation Safe Guns' is growing on me."
In the video, Borrasso explains that this is an illegal sawed-off shotgun. Notice how conveniently she places the barrel of the gun against her shoulders so we can estimate the length. If that barrel is less than 15or 16 inches long, I'd be very surprised. What we actually have here is a single-shot, break-open shotgun with a barrel that is technically too short according to federal law. Someone apparently cut it off shorter than 18 inches, but not by much. I'm surprised they gave it to a reporter to hold up on the evening news as their example of an illegal gun, because it would take an expert to tell it apart from a perfectly legal shotgun being used to hunt rabbits on railroad tracks somewhere in Pennsylvania right now (well, maybe during rabbit season.) Actually, Elmer Fudd carried something very similar.
This is an illegal gun the way a Mustang with the wrong engine parts is an illegal car in California, even if it passes the actual measurement of pollution output. It's a technical violation of an arbitrary regulation that no one but an expert would ever know is supposed to be "dangerous" or scary.
I can hear some of you saying I'm too negative. Why can't I think of the positive? OK, here's the positive: although "Operation Safe Guns" won't tell you this, I would bet $50 that the person who turned that gun in didn't know it was verboten by order of der mann. The average person would have no way of looking at that gun and knowing that it was worth ten years in a federal PMA prison. Therefore, we can all be glad that the unwitting federal felon turned this thing in at a "no questions asked" event and got $75 for his trouble. The gun was probably worth approximately that before the barrel was cut, but now it's radioactive; like a car sold at a police auction with two kilos of cocaine still hidden in the seats, it would have been a danger to everyone who purchased it.
The question I can't shake off is this: if that was the example they wanted to show the world of an "illegal gun" they "took off the streets," how innocent was the other one? It must have been less menacing than a well-aged single-shot break-open shotgun with a barrel a couple of inches too short.