Ben Beers was deeply upset by Tuesday’s mass shooting in Texas that left 19 children and two of their teachers dead.
Beers, 27, is a gun owner as well as a stay-at-home dad with two young kids in Hillsboro.
“The night of the massacre,” Beers said Friday, “I tossed and turned and cried and shook.”
Beers is an ex-Marine and a gun owner. He’s worked with law enforcement and been around guns most of his life. But on Wednesday morning, he decided he needed to do something drastic. He posted on TikTok about what he did next.
“Today I’m turning in my weapons to the Hillsboro Police Department in Oregon,” Beers said in his video. “Both my AR-15 and my 9-mill handgun. I no longer want them.”
“I know this will not change legislation or anything to do with gun culture in America, but hopefully it’ll be a form of symbolism and hopefully America can wake up because no other country has the problems that we do with gun culture and ideation and gun violence like we do.”
Beers’ video has been viewed nearly 192,000 times.
Hillsboro police confirmed Friday that Beers did surrender his weapons to be destroyed. Sgt. Clint Chrz, a spokesperson for the Hillsboro Police Department, said it was very rare to see anyone surrender guns for any reason.
More frequently, Chrz said, people want to dispose of ammunition. In the rare instance that someone is getting rid of a weapon, he added, it’s usually because “Grandpa dies and Grandma wants to get rid of his guns.”
“I’ve never seen it before where someone brings it in because of an incident,” Chrz said.
More often, he said, if someone wants to get rid of a weapon, they take it to a pawn shop.
“They are worth money,” Chrz said. “Most people don’t want to lose $2,000.”
Money, Beers thinks, is the main thing driving the gun problem in America.
“It’s going take so much work to change our future,” he said. “There are billions and billions of dollars being made and jobs and tax revenue.”
But Beers thinks dramatic action is what’s needed to stop gun deaths in this country. The Second Amendment, he thinks, cannot be sacrosanct.
“I’m not a historian at all, but I do know that … when it was written, those were way different times,” Beers said. “Women and Black people were not even considered to be human beings.
“So this document that was signed by our founding fathers, it cannot be like the holy grail, like as an, it can never be touched. They couldn’t fathom what our guns would look like.”
While Beers realizes his action on Wednesday won’t solve the problem, it is a small step and something other gun owners can do, too.
Most local law enforcement agencies can take weapons and have them destroyed. In Hillsboro, surrendered weapons are taken to a company out of Salem that maintains the chain of custody and incinerates them, Chrz said.
But if you’re looking to surrender a weapon, don’t simply walk into a police station with a gun.
Check with your local law enforcement agency to see how they prefer to receive surrendered weapons. In Portland, Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Terri Wallo Strauss said, call the non-emergency line 503-823-3333.
Portland police aren’t set up for gun takebacks “on a large-scale basis,” Wallo Strauss said, but she noted the bureau has “had discussions about partnering again with an outside agency to have a turn-in event.”
Previously, Portland police partnered with Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation.
“Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation would love to do another gun turn-in,” said Penny Okamoto, the organization’s executive director.
As of now, Okamoto said, her organization gets a few requests every month from people looking to surrender their weapons.
Okamoto also recommended using non-emergency lines and contacting local sheriff’s departments.
And there is at least one place in Oregon that is always accepting surrendered weapons: the Roseburg Police Department.
The Roseburg Police Department disposes of guns year-round and accepts guns from people who are not residents of Roseburg. To find out more or to arrange a drop-off, call 541-492-6760.
— Lizzy Acker