The above event was held Saturday in Baltimore and Carrie Wells of The Baltimore Sun reported on it.
Here’s a quick summary of this post with the full details below it:
- A gun buyback organized by UpLift Solutions was held this past weekend.
- Most of the guns turned in were old and rusty guns turned in by law abiding citizens – so guns weren’t really taken off the street.
- ShopRite gift cards worth $100 were given for each gun turned in.
- UpLift Solutions is a nonprofit closely tied to ShopRite and funded by the owner of ShopRite stores in other states.
- The local ShopRite owners and UpLift Solutions are building a new store in the neighborhood.
- The new store received over $14 million in tax credits (total cost was $20 million) to build the store.
- Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who is anti-gun, sponsored the buyback and also lobbied for the store’s construction.
- Marshall Klein, COO of local owner Klein’s ShopRite, is a political donor to anti-gun Democrats including Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Brian Frosh.
Here’s what Michael Basher, of UpLift Solutions, told Wells about the event:
This always gets a lot of guns off the streets and keeps the streets a little safer.
Wells only identified Basher as “director of a community development nonprofit connected to ShopRite.” I found the name of that nonprofit via Google and later WBAL-TV, which didn’t interview Basher, also identified the group in their report.
Radio station 92Q was broadcasting at the event, which was held at New All Saints Catholic Church.
Here’s a picture from the event from the WBAL story. Note the type of firearms shown.
Carrie Wells noted that:
They came with .22-caliber rifles wrapped in trash bags, Saturday night special handguns, rusted shotguns handed down from grandparents. A crowd of dozens lined up by 10 a.m. Saturday at a Northwest Baltimore church parking lot, most with gray hair and some leaning on canes or using hearing aides.
Many were skeptical that the gun buyback event would achieve organizers’ goal of reducing city crime, though they were pleased to get something of value for guns that in many cases hadn’t been fired in years or decades.
Jakiba Henderson told Wells that she didn’t know what kind of gun she was trading in and that it belonged to her recently departed grandfather. Henderson also said:
“The people who are committing the crimes aren’t turning in their guns, and their guns are probably illegal,” she said. “It’s more people like us who have guns sitting around the house,” who are turning them in.
More from the Wells article in The Sun:
Willie Gregory, 70, said he bought his .22-caliber rifle about 40 years ago for his children to use for target practice. The gun hadn’t been used in about that long. “They weren’t interested,” Gregory said.
Richard McCormick, 72, also had a .22-caliber rifle he wasn’t using anymore, though he said he had other guns at home. He said he wasn’t worried about thieves breaking in and stealing the guns.
If you watch the video accompanying the Sun story, Marshall Klein (COO of Klein’s ShopRite) is interviewed and talks about how great the buyback is.
The Sun story also mentions that organizers ran off people outside who were trying to buy the guns to keep them from being destroyed. If those people were on public sidewalks, I have some concerns about that.
The WBAL-TV story quoted a police official:
“It’s good for the community. People have guns that they keep in their homes for a number of years and if they were to have a break-in or somebody were to find that gun, then that’s another gun on the street that we have to combat and guard the citizens against,” said Marc Partee, district commander of Northwest District.
There has been at least one gun buyback at New All Saints Catholic Church reported on in the past. What was missing in the past was ShopRite gift cards. Coincidentally enough, ShopRite is opening a new store in the neighborhood. Recent church bulletins have pointed out that the store was hiring and preference was being given to people in the neighborhood. (An aside for Catholic readers: there is no evidence of any sort of pro-life ministry at this parish via their bulletins, website, or a Google search. However, they do have liturgical dance, which is not allowed.)
A story in Tuesday’s edition of The Baltimore Sun noted that the construction of the store itself is a joint venture between UpLift Solutions and Klein’s ShopRite. The story also notes that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had been lobbying for a store in the neighborhood. The store will sell fresh produce and will also cater to Muslims in the area with halal-certified meat.
The store received tax credits equal to almost 2/3 of constructing and stocking it:
Tax credits played a major role in ShopRite’s move to Howard Park. The breaks helped fund the estimated $20 million cost of building and stocking the store.
The Reinvestment Fund, a national backer of low-income neighborhood projects, together with First National Bank contributed $14.65 million in capital through the federal New Markets Tax Credit program, which is designed to attract investors to low-income communities.
UpLift Solutions is headquartered in a New Jersey suburb of Philadelphia. In fact, UpLift shares an address with Brown’s Super Stores, Inc. (the owner of Brown’s ShopRite – which is celebrating the end of Ramadan right now.) The Chairman of the Board of UpLift Solutions is Jeffrey Brown, who is also the CEO of Brown’s Super Stores. His wife is also a board member. Other board members include developers, lawyers, bankers, and others.
Mike Basher, the Director of Community Development at UpLift quoted in the buyback article, is a career grocery executive who worked for Brown’s and was made the head of the nonprofit when it was launched. Among his duties, Basher oversees the “Guns for Goods” program in various locations.
UpLift’s’ total revenue for 2013 was over $1.3 million. It would appear that a great deal of that revenue came from Brown’s. UpLift spent $1.1 million of that, including over $156,000 (around 14% of their total expenditures) in pay to Michael Basher. You can read UpLift Solutions’ Form 990 tax filings for yourself.
As noted above, Marshall Klein is the COO of Klein’s ShopRite which owns the Maryland locations for ShopRite. Klein has given political contributions to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Brian Frosh, both of whom are anti-gun. He also gave money to Mary Dulany-James, Liam Davis, Doug Duncan, and the failed gubernatorial campaign of David Craig and Jeannie Haddaway.
The public relations game and political gamesmanship detailed by all of the above shows that UpLift Solutions is a very poorly hidden arm of ShopRite itself and the new location going up in the area benefited greatly by government tax benefits while also helping push a pet political cause of its patrons in elected office.