Gun buyback participants assured weapons will be destroyed, not recycled or resold

By: Kathryn Pentiuk | Southfield Sun | Published January 10, 2024

 Father Chris Yaw of St. David’s Episcopal Church assured that all guns collected at last month’s buyback would be destroyed by GunBusters, not recycled.

Father Chris Yaw of St. David’s Episcopal Church assured that all guns collected at last month’s buyback would be destroyed by GunBusters, not recycled.

Photo provided by Father Chris Yaw


SOUTHFIELD — Controversy ensued around gun buyback programs after the New York Times launched an investigation that found the guns collected at buybacks in Flint and Southfield were not destroyed but were instead recycled and resold.

GunBusters, the Missouri-based company that Michigan State Police sends firearms to for destruction, was reportedly only destroying a piece of a weapon that was stamped with the serial number and then selling the rest of the gun as a gun kit.

Father Chris Yaw, the rector at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Southfield, who appeared in the article and hosted the most recent gun buyback on Dec. 9, said that they were furious when they learned that the guns would not be destroyed but recycled.

“When you look at why we do buybacks, one of the reasons is to keep this issue in front of the public,” he said. “And one of the things that we wrestle with as a society is that we really have a gun disposal problem. We have a lot of people who have guns and don’t want them. And why should a church be the one who takes them?”

At the Dec. 9 buyback, 224 weapons were collected, including 133 handguns and 87 long guns, and nearly $19,000 was given away in gift cards from funds contributed by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners and donations raised through St. David’s.

Yaw assured the community that the guns collected at the recent buyback will be properly destroyed.

“When this happened, we went into ‘we’re not going to take this’ mode,” he said. He explained that they began researching and located a company that would destroy the guns for a fee, but they didn’t have to go through that company because GunBusters emailed him stating that they would cover the $15,000 cost and destroy the guns that were collected for free.

“The Michigan State Police is committed to upholding Michigan’s recently updated gun violence prevention laws and to getting illegal guns off the streets so they cannot be used in a commission of a crime,” the State Police stated in an email. “All firearms surrendered to the MSP are turned over to GunBusters to be destroyed in accordance with the (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’) acceptable destruction procedures that require the destruction of the frame or receiver so the firearm can no longer be used. We receive video proof of this occurring for every firearm. The MSP is among 950 agencies from across the country that utilize GunBusters’ services.”

In an update provided by state Rep. Natalie Price, D-Berkley, who serves on the Michigan Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention Caucus, she stated, “The Michigan State Police have paused sending firearms to GunBusters and are committed to storing all of the weapons that they collect through buybacks until there is a more sustainable solution.” She added that legislators are working to find a solution for the issue. She mentioned that there is a possibility of working with another vendor to destroy the firearms, paying GunBusters more to ensure that the guns are destroyed entirely, or the MSP purchasing a pulverizer to destroy the guns on-site.

“We have a lot of things to consider,” she said. “We want to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. We want to be aware of the environmental impacts of destroying weapons. We want to have a solution that will be sustainable and long-term, not political.”

A representative for GunBusters could not be reached for comment.

For more information on future gun buybacks or to donate, visit