Man Claims Police Arrested Him For Embarrassing Them At Gun Buyback

A firearms instructor was arrested after a disagreement with Miami PD about the prices quoted for AR-15 parts.

Miami, FL – A shooting instructor and gun collector was arrested after he made a scene at a gun buyback event and accused the city of Miami of “ripping people off.”

John Gillis told the Miami New Times that he contacted the Miami Police Department ahead of their scheduled buyback day to find out what they would pay him for 27 AR-15 lower receivers.

Gillis said the police department said they would pay $250 per AR-15.

So Gillis, a National Rifle Association firearms instructor and avid gun collector, took the AR-15s to the Miami PD’s gun buyback on March 17 with every intent of selling them to the police department, the Miami New Times reported.

But when he arrived at the buyback with his lower receivers, Miami police offered him only $17 per receiver.

"They refused to take 27 AR-15s off the street as far as I'm concerned," Gillis told Miami New Times. "The Miami Police Department doesn't classify this as a firearm.”

AR-15s are customizable weapons, and lower receivers like what Gillis was trying to sell back are the part of the gun that provides housing for internal components like the hammer.

It's also the part of the gun that's considered the "gun," with other components simply being parts.

The lower receiver of an AR-15 with a serial number is considered a firearm in its own right, and requires a background check for purchase if it is more than 80 percent complete, Buckeye Firearms Association Executive Director Dean Rieck told the Miami New Times in an emailed statement.

Rieck said an incomplete lower receiver for an AR-15 can only be purchased without a background check if it requires additional work before it is operable.

Gillis said he challenged the officers who were negotiating for his guns and wouldn’t honor the prices given in advance on the phone.

“I asked for that in writing, but they wouldn't give it to me. They had initially promised $250 for the lower receivers, but now they only wanted to pay $17," he told the Miami New Times.

Each lower receiver was actually worth about $50, Gillis said.

Frustrated with the treatment he had received, the firearms expert figured there would be other unhappy customers arriving at the buyback.

So Gillis parked his Jeep in front of the buyback and posted a sign on it that said “I Buy Guns.”

That’s when officers decided to question the angry firearms instructor and his friend who had accompanied him to the buyback.

Police eventually arrested Gillis and his friend right there for contracting without a license, the Miami New Times reported.

"I wasn't contracting anything; I wasn't running a business. I just embarrassed them and annoyed them, so they wanted to teach me a lesson," Gillis said.

The arrest report said he told officers that he was offering to buy guns from the public rather than let the city “keep ripping people off.”

The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office told the Miami New Times that charges had been dropped against Gillis and his friend due to lack of evidence on June 6.

Comments (15)
No. 1-10

If the police did not want to buy them, just leave. No one was forcing him to sell them. Wasted energy.


Dude, the receiver is not the full AR-15 like the cops said that they would pay for.


this is just another illustration of how stupid gun buybacks are... I've seen instructions on how to make guns for $10 that gun buybacks have paid $25 gift certificates (or more) and i should note, gift certificates to companies with stores in Oregon, like Walmart, Target etc. are tradeable for face value to cash in Oregon by Oregon law. so there is a thriving grey market buying gift certificates. shipping to Oregon, trading for cash.

Thus that $10 gun makes about $20 by walking to a trader (like Walmart) if you don't believe the liquidity of gift cards, just ask at Walmart's customer service desk


Time to charge them with false arrest. Take em to court and let them explain themselves


Sounds to me like some gross miscommunications on both sides. While the author claims to have called in advance and told them he had 27 lower receivers the police spokesman stated $250 per AR-15. Either he didn't fully understand what the seller was offering or the seller didn't understand what the officer was offering. Either way, there was no reason to make a scene over the misunderstanding. I imagine the officer's working the desk at the buyback never claimed to be gun experts, they were merely following what was in all probability a written directive on pricing from way up the chain of command. They couldn't cut deals for fear of being accused of playing favorites in case a friend brought in something and they could have paid more because they knew them.