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?

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  1. Profile photo of Steven Jones Coolidge

    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.
    • #1
    • January 6, 2013 at 1:07 am
  2. Profile photo of Rob W Inactive

    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.

    • #2
    • January 6, 2013 at 1:10 am
  3. Profile photo of Babci Member

     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!

    • #4
    • January 6, 2013 at 1:22 am
  4. Profile photo of Aaron Miller Member

    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.

    • #5
    • January 6, 2013 at 1:36 am
  5. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member

    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.

    • #6
    • January 6, 2013 at 1:54 am
  6. Profile photo of Mitch Jr. Inactive

    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.

    • #7
    • January 6, 2013 at 1:56 am
  7. Profile photo of Severely Ltd. Member

    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.

    • #8
    • January 6, 2013 at 2:09 am
  8. Profile photo of Eeyore Member

    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.

    • #9
    • January 6, 2013 at 2:14 am
  9. Profile photo of Jimmie Bise Jr Inactive

    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.

    • #10
    • January 6, 2013 at 2:16 am
  10. Profile photo of Leigh Member

    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.

    • #11
    • January 6, 2013 at 2:17 am
  11. Profile photo of Wylee Coyote Member
    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.

    • #12
    • January 6, 2013 at 2:22 am
  12. Profile photo of Edward Smith Inactive

    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.

    • #13
    • January 6, 2013 at 2:26 am
  13. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher

    Empty, futile gestures are better when they are free.

    • #14
    • January 6, 2013 at 2:32 am
  14. Profile photo of John Grant Contributor

    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

    • #15
    • January 6, 2013 at 2:35 am
  15. Profile photo of Byron Horatio Member

    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.

    • #16
    • January 6, 2013 at 3:10 am
  16. Profile photo of flownover Inactive

    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.

    • #17
    • January 6, 2013 at 3:21 am
  17. Profile photo of Edward Smith Inactive

    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.

    • #18
    • January 6, 2013 at 3:22 am
  18. Profile photo of Foxfier Inactive

    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.

    • #19
    • January 6, 2013 at 3:42 am
  19. Profile photo of Edward Smith Inactive

    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

    • #20
    • January 6, 2013 at 3:53 am
  20. Profile photo of Leigh Member

    If there really are so many people out there who have guns they don’t want that much, and many other buying for the first time, isn’t there a genuinely free-market opportunity out there?

    • #21
    • January 6, 2013 at 4:16 am
  21. Profile photo of Matthew Gilley Member

    Gun buy back programs are such a cute notion. Only a bevy of earnest M.A.s, MPAs, JDs, MDs, MPHs, and Ph.Ds could convince themselves that the only thing standing between their cash and my guns is the lack of a program. Lookit, I have no plans to part with my guns but everyone and everything has a price. You want ’em, don’t wait for buy back day at the community center; call me and make an offer. Let’s start with my .380 Browning – what ya got?

    • #22
    • January 6, 2013 at 4:47 am
  22. Profile photo of CoolHand Inactive
    James Poulos

    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.

    I see.

    So, the actual purpose is to piss away our tax money and make you feel better. Correct?

    I suggest, sir, that you take your own damned money to fund the buy back.

    I will take my money and do the reverse.

    • #23
    • January 6, 2013 at 5:21 am
  23. Profile photo of Jimmy Carter Member

    Buyback?!

    I don’t remember ever purchasing My firearms from the government store.

    • #24
    • January 6, 2013 at 5:55 am
  24. Profile photo of Tim H. Member

    In addition to the more specific arguments so many others have given, let me add these:

    I love guns. I am a gun-crazed hillbilly, of sorts 😉 and I love having, using, and admiring them. I hate seeing the destruction of just about anything—cars (which on their own I couldn’t care less about), houses (even ones that are eyesores), etc. So I cringe at the idea of these guns being melted down, of all things. Why not at the least auction them off to the local dealers? They’re legal, after all, and the law-abiding would love the chance to buy them. (That’s “market-driven”!)

    Beyond that, sure, it’s not violating the Second Amendment. And a book burning doesn’t violate the First Amendment. I think that’s a great solution to popular culture filth: have the government buy up gangster rap CDs, smut magazines, and movies about demented anti-heros, and have a public burning. Who does it hurt? It’s voluntary, and the owners make some money, right? [Yes, I’m kidding]

    The problem is that the government treats the exercise of a protected right as a social problem to be officially condemned.

    • #25
    • January 6, 2013 at 6:29 am
  25. Profile photo of Crow's Nest Member

    Much as growing numbers of Americans view the government as a guarantor of our security more than an obstacle to our freedom, guns are beginning to look more like an obstacle to our freedom than a guarantor of our security.

    Ah, yes. We’ve gone from the “live free or die” country to the “live free if it doesn’t make anyone anywhere less comfortable than they otherwise might be, even if provided at public expense” country.

    What a disgrace.

    If you wish to sell back your weapons, by all means, be our guest–I’m certain that a local privately owned gun shop would be happy to buy them back without involving taxpayer dollars. But what is to be done with the rest of us pesky folks who do not wish to sell back our guns.

    • #26
    • January 6, 2013 at 6:39 am
  26. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    Wow. This is an example of someone not knowing much about a topic and then offering a vapid solution to something that isn’t a problem, and which only creates a market for stolen guns and wastes tax payers’ money.

    • #27
    • January 6, 2013 at 6:58 am
  27. Profile photo of Tom Meyer, Ed. Editor

    As everyone — including me — is piling on James, I do think he had a good point here:

    But more than that, buyback allows us to indulge in the usually dangerous feeling that, in the wake of a crisis that scares and offends us, we must do something — on as sweeping and symbolic a level as possible, usually. Buyback manages to be sweeping, symbolic, substantial, and comforting even as it advances a sensible policy with no risk of overreach.

    The existence of such feelings is both true and unfortunate. But given that it’s true — and likely always be — buy-out programs may provide a relatively innocuous means to placate the impulse among liberal citizens and their representatives. I’m still unconvinced that it’s worth it, but that’s a respectable argument.

    • #28
    • January 6, 2013 at 8:04 am
  28. Profile photo of LHFry Inactive

    There have been instances in Washington DC where criminals have brought their old guns to buybacks, gotten the money, and bought new ones. Then they post this on Facebook.

    • #29
    • January 6, 2013 at 8:15 am
  29. Profile photo of Foxfier Inactive

    Tom-

    problem:

    disarming is not a sensible policy, and they’re a horrific waste.

    It’s like having a “house buy-back” where you offer people money for their houses– the burn the house, plow it under and salt the land, then put up a sign that nobody is allowed to be there on pain of law.

    The possible law-abiding goods are destroyed, the value in the house is destroyed, and a barren waste conductive to illegal activity is created. 

    Making liberals feel better about their desire to control people as long as it’s easy and safe and doesn’t cost them anything is not something I wish to encourage!

    • #30
    • January 6, 2013 at 8:16 am
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