Americans own a lot of guns. With more than 300 million of them in civilian hands, according to some estimates, the U.S. is the most heavily armed society in the world.
This proliferation hasn’t happened overnight. Firearms have been an American tradition for centuries. Many families have passed down guns for generations. But Americans have also continued to buy plenty of new guns, leading to record sales in recent years.
The U.S. loves its guns. But what happens when someone owns a firearm they don’t love, and they want to get rid of it without putting it back on the market? If that describes you, we want to talk.
Here’s why: Although reselling guns can be relatively straightforward, disposing of them isn’t. Many police departments host gun buybacks or amnesty programs, allowing the public to turn in weapons, often with the promise of modest compensation.
But after people give up those firearms, it’s hard to say what will happen to them. Some law enforcement agencies destroy surrendered guns, but many instead auction them or pawn them to licensed dealers, which then resell them. Sometimes, those weapons end up being used in shootings.
For anyone uncomfortable with that possibility, the options for getting rid of guns are limited. There are ways to destroy firearms on your own, though it can be difficult, depending on the type of weapon and your familiarity with firearms. There are also more innovative alternatives, like groups that take unwanted guns and melt them down into shovels or art.
But none of these methods are particularly simple or easy. If you find yourself in this predicament and aren’t sure what to do, please fill out the form below, send me a tweet or an email ― nickw [at] huffpost.com ― or leave a comment.