On a sunny day in Florida’s second-largest city, people lined up in cars and motorcycles outside Miami City Hall, where law enforcement waited to collect and inspect their firearms. “No questions asked!” the Miami Police Department posted on Twitter.
Since Russia’s invasion in late February — and Ukraine’s repeated pleas for military help from the West — some Americans have been looking for ways to send arms and ammunition to Ukraine.
But U.S. and foreign export licensing requirements have complicated those moves — and Miami’s buy-back program has proven controversial at some conservative gun sites, where commentators have expressed skepticism that that the weapons collected would actually reach the front lines of war or be useful in combat.
On Saturday, the Miami Police Department released a video of his officials touting what he called the success of his gun buyback program for Ukraine.
“We really didn’t know what to expect,” Miami Police Chief Manuel Morales said in the video, standing next to more than a dozen guns laid out on a white table. “But we came here, the community came out and showed us great support.”
Police recovered 68 weapons, Morales said, adding that only “a few of them” are likely to be “suitable to send to our friends in Ukraine”.
It’s unclear how the Miami Police Department plans to get the weapons there. Earlier this month, the Miami City Commission approved a resolution “directing the city manager to take all necessary steps to ensure that weapons received under the city’s arms buy-back program are directed to Ukraine for the defense and liberation of the Ukrainian people from the Russian invader”.
Generally, under Florida law, any gun left in the hands of a state official must be turned over to the sheriff, who can use it, loan it to other state departments, destroy it or sell it for the benefit of a state fund. State officials are generally not authorized to send weapons overseas. Under a set of federal rules called International Traffic in Arms Regulationsanyone seeking to export firearms, ammunition, and other defense-related items from the United States must obtain a license from the US Department of State.
City Commissioner Ken Russell, who submitted the resolution, said Morales had checked with the State Department that such a move was “possible through the right channels where those who have the license to export can do it cooperatively. with the federal government.
Miami police did not respond to requests for comment Monday on the plan and whether the department had an export license. The State Department referred questions to the City of Miami and the Commerce Department, which also did not respond to a request for comment Monday morning. Trade reportedly sought to expedite the processing of applications from Americans send firearms and ammunition in the first weeks of the war.
Weapons collected in Miami are also likely to fall short of the needs of Ukrainian officials as they seek more sophisticated weapons systems and ammunition to withstand Russia’s onslaught, especially in eastern Europe. Ukraine.
The United States is one of Ukraine’s Western allies supplying it with weapons. US military assistance largely consists of advanced medium-range rocket systems, drones, and thousands of anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons such as shoulder-fired Stinger and Javelin missiles.
Ukraine runs out of ammunition as battlefield outlook dims
Yet Miami police seeking to get guns off the streets may have succeeded in achieving that goal.
Experts say voluntary gun buy-back programs can be an effective way to remove unused weapons from the streets and engage with local communities on gun safety – although research indicates they are largely ineffective in curbing violenceand some critics say they tend to attract outdated or unserviceable firearms.
The initiative to direct guns to Ukraine “could take a lot of guns off the streets,” City Commissioner Russell previously said. told the Miami New Times, a local outlet. “That’s mostly where it comes from.”
The AK-47 and AR-15 are semi-automatic rifles that have been used in mass shootings in the United States. They were prohibited for a decade under President Bill Clinton’s 1994 assault weapons ban. It’s unclear how many of these types of weapons were turned over to Miami police on Saturday.
“A lot of people don’t understand why anyone would want to turn in their guns,” Russell said in the Miami Police Department video on Saturday. “These are people who had guns in their homes and no longer wanted them. We don’t ask any questions, but we’re happy to get them out of their homes, because that way it’s a weapon that can’t fall into someone’s hands, or even a child, and be misused.
“How many lives were saved today because of this event, we will never know,” Morales added.