SEATTLE -- A breakdown in communication between the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department has led to a meltdown.
On Tuesday, Mayor Mike McGinn announced that more than 700 guns collected during a buyback in January by the Seattle Police Department would be melted down to make plaques. The program would be called "Weapons to Words."
"After they're melted down, we're asking school children what we should put on these plaques," he said.
But according to Seattle Police, miscommunication led to the weapons being melted down in early April.
"We needed to reserve some and we didn't. Operationally, the expectation didn't pass through and ultimately we didn't meet that expectation," said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, a police spokesman.
The guns were melted by Nucor Steel and used as rebar in projects around the community.
McGinn found out about the mishap the morning of his news conference but according to a spokesman, he continued on with the announcement because he didn't want it to be a distraction.
The mayor's office released this statement Thursday afternoon:
“I apologize for not being more forthcoming at our press conference. We will be using metal from guns acquired at our next gun buy back for our Weapons to Words youth outreach effort. I was informed that morning that the guns from the first buy back were melted down for rebar used in community buildings.
The fact was I didn’t want this piece of information to distract from the program or the incredible support from Schnitzer Steel and the Chihuly family. We shared the information when directly asked, but we should have been more proactive in sharing the source of the metal for Weapons to Words. That was my mistake"
Seattle City Councilman Bruce Harrell says he doesn't want to point fingers, but believes both the city and the Seattle Police Department should have admitted the mishap earlier.
"I tell all of my co-elected officials, we make mistakes and I think the public will be forgiving when you just come out and be honest," said Harrell.
The art project will be postponed until another buyback takes place. Seattle police don't have a firm date for the next one yet.
The mistake has the Second Amendment Society, a group against the buyback, firing sharp criticism.
"Some in the gun rights community are shaking their heads over this, noting it smacks of dishonesty of dishonesty from McGinn's office. The much ballyhooed final use for those melted guns turns out to be all flash and no substance," said spokesman Dave Workman.