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 gun part.
"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.
The lower receiver of an AR-15 with a serial number is usually 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.
However, making a lower receiver operable takes a skilled gunsmith and the proper tools, he explained.
Gillis said he challenged the officers who were negotiating for his gun parts 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.