The Baltimore police department held a gun buyback event in an effort to get illegal guns off the streets. That now includes one rocket launcher.
Police say someone turned in the rocket launcher at one of the events, getting $500 in return for it. As the Associated Press reported, police accepted the trade-in and then sent the rocket launcher to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to help trace its origin.
Though the trade-in may have been unusual, officials in Baltimore are happy to have the weapon off the streets and to cut down on the potential for violence. City officials have struggled with high crime rates, and in particular, crimes that are committed with illegal guns. Though Maryland has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, the state's largest city is still among the most violent in the nation.
It's not likely that the rocket launcher could have done much damage, however. As Business Insider reported, this type of rocket launcher has actually shown up regularly at gun buyback events across the country and they are most likely useless. Chris Gray, a spokesman for Army Investigations, told the news outlet that the ones that show up are usually Cold War-era weapons that are single-use only. After the weapon is fired one time, it turns into a useless piece of plastic.
As the report noted, this type of rocket launcher is also common and easy to obtain for veterans.
"Despite the headlines and the wonder-inspiring fact that missile launchers are floating around U.S. cities, they're all harmless — and very easy to get, especially if you've been in the Army or Marine infantry," the report noted.
Being that they are so easy to obtain --- and can net $500 from police --- these rocket launchers have become popular at buyback events.
There have been some questions on whether Baltimore's event, and others like it, are really a success. Many of the firearms turned in are no longer operational, and some of those who participate in the event still have other, more powerful and sometimes illegal guns that they keep. One of the people interviewed at this week's event in Baltimore said she was turning in an older, non-functioning gun so she could have money to buy a new gun.Still, the Baltimore gun buyback event was considered a success in reducing the number of guns in the city. Police said they have received more than 1,000 weapons at two events last week, including 509 handguns, 273 rifles, and 245 shotguns --- and one rocket launcher.