A Viola man is offering $500 to anyone who will surrender their AR-14 or AR-15 rifle to be destroyed and sign a pledge to give that money to a charity of their choice.
Stan Smith, 75, is a fourth-generation Idaho resident and owns guns. He said he is frustrated with politicians not taking action on gun legislation to help prevent mass shootings, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. He wrote in a Letter to the Editor published Saturday in the Daily News that he hopes others from churches, service organizations and other groups join him in buying these rifles and giving the money to charity.
“I’m not against guns as a whole category and I’m not in favor of a mandatory confiscation or even a buyback, because the money’s not there,” said Smith, noting the indebted federal government could not afford it. “What I said very succinctly is that citizens as individuals, or as groups collectively, could do a lot to diminish the number of guns on the market of that type.”
Smith, a former social studies teacher at Moscow High School and current substitute teacher at local schools, said he is aware more people die from handguns and other weapons than from the two AR rifles, but said those two guns have resulted in mass killings and residents should not be allowed to own them.
“How many more innocent people are going to be killed?” Smith said.
He said a group of like-minded parents in Lewiston have contacted him and supported his efforts, but he has not received any other communication.
“Did I expect the world to rise up?” Smith said. “No.”
He said he is surprised he has not received death threats because of the letter.
“I’m 75 and this is not the world I would envision for our children or grandchildren so that’s a very simple motive with no catastrophic, earth-shaking result,” Smith said. “But as I said on the very last words (of the letter), my heart is at peace because I did something and that’s in stark contrast of what the politicians don’t do because too many of them are in the pocket of the (National Rifle Association).”
Latah County Sheriff Richie Skiles said Smith reached out to him and Moscow Police Department Chief James Fry about offering money in exchange for destroying rifles.
Skiles said he understands his intentions but told him he would not encourage doing it.
Skiles said he is unsure if Smith will get any takers, but added AR-15 owners probably have at least $800 invested in their rifles so the $500 does not cover the cost. Additionally, the money will be donated, which could deter people from taking Smith up on his offer, Skiles said.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.