Gun Buyback: A Real Kumbaya Moment?

As far as I can tell, gun buyback programs are the only “gun control” policies that manage to be:

* Immediate;

* Voluntary;

* Popular;

* Market-driven; and

* Effective.

Plus, they’re not reliant on Washington legislators or bureaucrats. Doesn’t that amount to a slam dunk case for everyone to support them, starting right now? Especially given the alternatives we’re hearing from the house-to-house-confiscation crowd on the one hand, and the arm-the-teachers crowd on the other?

  1. Steven Jones

    I don’t know a lot of hard facts regarding gun buy- back programs, but here are a few points I’ve heard anecdotally:

    • Many of the guns turned in are junk. Punks sometimes use the money to buy a better gun.

    • Some of the items turned in are valuable antiques, which (per the rules of the program) will be destroyed.
  2. Rob W

    Mr. Poulos (in Forbes) quotes an LAT article about the wonderfulness of a recent buyback.  I don’t believe a word of it.  The LAT has no interest in a frank evaluation any gun buyback, and the LAT article is basically a fluff piece to make liberals in and out of government feel they are “making a difference”. 

    Gun buybacks are not immediate, popular, market-driven, or effective.  Anybody who participates in a buyback program is either disposing of junk (for more than market value), a government-sponsored shill, or foolish.

    Buybacks are mistaken in theory.  The problem isn’t too many guns.  The problem is too few guns in the hands of responsible people.

  3. Stuart Creque

    And they give you an opportunity to get rid of the evidence.

    Four wounded in Oakland shooting blocks from gun buy back site

  4. Babci

     I recently had guns stolen and the deputy sheriff who took the report said there’s a chance we’ll find them through pawnshop transactions…but we’re out of luck if there’s a buy back in the area.  The deal is usually a “no questions asked” proposition and the guns go directly to meltdown.  So, the guy doesn’t have to risk anything…he steals my guns and then collects my taxpayer dollars to go buy meth.  

    Kumbaya, my lord…Kumbaya!

  5. Aaron Miller

    It’s your right to sell your own guns. It’s my right not to buy your guns.

    This is not what taxes are for.

  6. tabula rasa

    This would be merely the politics of the “empty gesture.”  It will not reduce gun violence, but it will waste tax dollars.

    Just another version of Cash for Clunkers.

  7. Mitch Jr.

    So instead of taking my guns, take my money (via increased taxes) to give to other people for guns they don’t want anyway?I am afraid I was baited into responding to what might have been a tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic and obviously non-starter solution.

  8. Severely Ltd.

    Like Tom Meyer, I think they are a waste of taxpayer’s money, but if anyone is willing to sell their gun like this, I’m probably happier with them not having one. I wonder if stolen guns from other areas flood in? If the gun can’t be traced, the government is a pretty safe fence.

  9. Eeyore

    Gun buybacks might be effective for a useful purpose if a few things happened:  

    1) There is a firearms expert on hand to evaluate the guns. Until significant pushback, one city wanted to destroy a gun turned in by a widow which ended up being one of 3 prototypes of the pistol used by the Japanese in WWII, worth a quarter-million dollars. She could have been directed to a more appropriate disposition method.

    2) Guns are traced, and if listed stolen, you’re in trouble. No reason to pay criminals to steal or turn in murder guns. Giving someone $200 to prevent solving a crime seems a bad use of public funds. Let ‘em toss ‘em into the river. They won’t turn in crime guns unless they’re done with crime.

    3) Good quality guns are turned over to an FFL and are thus available at used prices to the legit buyer. 

    So you get rid the guns people no longer want, are afraid to keep, etc. It thus also keeps the city out of being accessories-after-the-fact in the crime-gun laundering business.

  10. Jimmie Bise Jr

    Short answer: No.

    Long answer: Buy-back programs spend public money and have no effect on crime rates. They do get guns out of people’s hands, but often those guns are 1) legally-owned anyhow, 2) junk guns that couldn’t be used in a crime or for any other reason other than display, 3) occasionally guns used in a crime for which the buy-back program is an excellent way for a criminal to dispose of evidence.

  11. Leigh

    I think the case in the linked article is better than the post (which I at first thought was a joke.) 

    Buyback programs are not, ahem, a silver bullet. But they are the best available means for getting guns out of the hands of people who turn out to not really want them — and for getting people to make that realization for themselves. 

    It doesn’t stop determined bad guys or interfere with anyone’s 2nd-amendment rights, but I suppose it could weed out some irresponsible owners, which might be legitimately in the public interest.  Hardly convinced that it’s a good use of money, but I’d rather the gun-control people start pushing something like this than restrictive laws.

  12. Wylee Coyote
    Eeyore:  1) There is a firearms expert on hand to evaluate the guns. Until significant pushback, one city wanted to destroy a gun turned in by a widow which ended up being one of 3 prototypes of the pistol used by the Japanese in WWII, worth a quarter-million dollars. She could have been directed to a more appropriate disposition method.

    That does happen – and occasionally there is a happy ending.  In most cases, though, they end up in the smelter.

  13. Edward Smith

    If I were a criminal of serious intent, and there were a Gun Buy Back program going on, I have a feeling that I could very easily see good reason to hold onto my weapon.

    Hell, if I had a good crew working for me, I might wait till after the event and steal the shipment of guns before any damage could be done to them that would make resale difficult.

    Hell, even the cheap guns from the event would sell.

    It would be tricky, but it might be fun in a perverse sort of way.

  14. Percival

    Empty, futile gestures are better when they are free.

  15. John Grant
    C

    In other words, gun buyback is successful if success doesn’t have anything to do with reducing murder and mayhem.

    By this metric, programs like midnight basketball have worked splendidly. I mean people showed up to play basketball, and that was the point of the whole operation, right?

     

    James Poulos

    Roberto

    danoand: I can follow most of aspects (I, V, P, M) that the poster claims.  Any grounding or hard evidence that gun buyback programs are effective? · 0 minutes ago

    Yes. Effective at accomplishing what exactly? · 4 minutes ago

    I mean people show up with guns — that’s it. Even if buyback isn’t effective among people who (a) really really want to keep their guns and (b) use them irresponsibly/dangerously, I don’t think that’s the proper measure of the effectiveness, or purpose, of buyback. · 1 hour ago

  16. Byron Horatio

    Some smart thinking Clevelanders last year went to a gun buyback event and set up shop right next to it. The police were offering 50 dollar coupons and this other table of citizens were offering 75 dollars cash for the guns. Naturally the police were losing a lot of business. Had I been in town, I would have joined them and emptied my savings in cash to buy as much as I could. I would have likely quintupled my investment in a few hours. The worst part of these buyback is that they destroy history. People unknowingly have turned in priceless relics like early German Lugers worth tens of thousands. And the police melt them down.

  17. flownover

    I am not fond of radial arm saws and suspect they are probably involved in  alot of injuries. Should we buy them back ? 

    I bet the carpenters will be keeping theirs. As the crooks will be keeping their guns along with the hunters and the folks who want a gun around to defend themselves from the crooks.

    Having come from a family business, where we sold wholesale hardware, there was a good deal of inventory of guns and ammo, as that was a popular item in a hardware store in a country town.  Does that make me a criminal ? I met some of the DuPont’s who made Winchester ammo , my dad knew Bill Ruger , had a number of friends in the gun and ammo business . I don’t recall any of these people being odious death dealers . 

    We also sold big bowie knives , little penknives , nails of all sizes, and corn knives that looked alot like the weapons used in Ruanda against the Tutsi, but in the right hands, they just cut cornstalks . 

    The buyback thing is so facile.

  18. Edward Smith

    Touching on the collectible guns that show up at Gun Buyback events and are melted down …

    After Hurricane Sandy, crews paid for by the city and of volunteers from churches helped people clean out their flooded homes.

    I was involved in one such crew through a church group.  I helped throw out pressure treated wood and power tools that might well have been sold for scrap (the tools) or to be stripped down and used (the wood).  Had contractors with pickup trucks and crews worked the area, people would have been able to recoup a small percentage of their losses.

    If that woman in Connecticut had been told what the gun was worth by her father – assuming her father knew its significance and value (as opposed to some of the mass-produced “Samurai swords” the Japanese military handed out to its overgrown officer ranks during the 30′s & 40′s like lollypops at Citibank) it would never have reached the Buyback event.

    People have absurd ideas of what is valuable and what is trash.  Worn out Mercury dimes, cheap gold plate, and nasty looking guns.

    People may well deserve to lose all that money – ignorance should cost you.

  19. Foxfier

    How is tax money being given away in exchange for destroying things of presumed value a “market based solution”?

    What market, the Wasting Other Peoples’ Money On Worse Than Useless Emotional Gestures fund?

    It’s not even as good as cash for clunkers– at least there were qualifications for that incredible destruction; a recent “gun by back” got the empty, one-use pipes that use to have RPGs in them.

  20. Edward Smith

    Cash for Clunkers resulted in parts for late model cars being useless for the After Market.  Something in the way they flushed those engines, I recall.

    Clunkers have value too.  How often have we heard on car talk about people deciding to pour gallons of cheap motor oil into their cars for a few more months so they can (presumably) save the money they would have to spend on repairing the transmission for a replacement vehicle.

    Foxfier: How is tax money being given away in exchange fordestroying things of presumed value a “market based solution”?

    What market, the Wasting Other Peoples’ Money On Worse Than Useless Emotional Gestures fund?

    It’s not even as good as cash for clunkers– at least there were qualifications for that incredible destruction; a recent “gun by back” got the empty, one-use pipes that use to have RPGs in them. · 7 minutes ago

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