There’s nothing especially new about the nation’s highly polarized gun debate. That feeling of deja vu has some concerned citizens trying new tactics. Rashawn Welch is part of this new breed. Welch owns a luxury car rental business. He’s now offering a free rental for anyone who turns in a gun. Could this new approach make a dent in the number of guns on the street?
Welch lives in Miami, a city that’s no stranger to gun violence. His company,305 Elite, is offering a free rental of one of the company’s high-end cars to anyone who turns in a gun.
“I’m just trying to get (guns) off the street, no matter what,” said Welch. He is turning the guns over to the Miami Gardens Police Department.
“The same kids I was renting cars to were getting caught up (in crime),” he told CNN.
Welch himself spent 5 years in prison, “a circumstance that lends him a credibility and familiarity within the community.”
The program Welch has devised is, as he sees it, an alternative to traditional gun buybacks.
“Why would I turn in a gun for a $200 gift card at Target when I could sell it on the street for $500? It doesn’t make sense.”
Welch rents Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Bentleys. These are the cars he’s offering up for this new program.
“When I pull up (in one of his cars) all the young men say ‘who are you and what do you do?’ ” he said. “I can use the car to get their attention. And cars get their attention.”
“At least they did for one local high schooler,” CNN writes. “The student called and said he had an AR-15 to trade in, so Welch is sending the young man — who wishes to remain anonymous — to his senior prom in style in a 2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost complete with his own chauffer. Welch said such a service would typically run about $1,000, and it was well worth it.”
“If I have to do 100 cars for 100 guns then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Welch’s idea has some obvious flaws, though he doesn’t appear to see them. Allowing the teenager to turn in the rifle may allow someone who has broken laws to dispose of the evidence anonymously. And the program may very well inspire new criminal activity. Why not trade a stolen gun of one of Welch’s joy-rides?
Welch hasn’t set a limit on how many rentals he will give away, either. He also hasn’t stipulated a minimum value (or perceived danger-factor) for the guns he intends to trade. Offers like this often net antique and broken guns. Will the offer bankrupt his company? He seems to be under the impression that 100 guns would be a considerable number. Yet there were more than 6,000 violent crimes in Miami in 2016. Many of those involved the type of guns Welch wants off the streets. He may need a bigger fleet of cars.