The premise is simple: Government entities or private sponsors purchase firearms from the citizenry—no questions asked—and the result is fewer guns on the streets.
Fewer guns = less gun crime.
If only it were that simple.
The first Gun Buyback Program
The first well-documented instance of American law enforcement authorities offering cash to anyone willing to sell their guns was in 1974 in Baltimore, Maryland. The police set-up in a local church and offered $50 for any firearm surrendered to them. Over the next three days, 13,000 guns were turned in, mostly (reportedly) by housewives whose husband had left a gun laying in a drawer or closet for years—untouched—and wouldn’t notice it’s absence.
And if he did notice his missing gun, well, at least he would no longer possess the gun while venting his anger.
The piles of firearms made for wonderful photo ops. Politicians shook hands. Mainstream media breathlessly reported the magnificent success of the gun buyback program. The world became a little bit safer…right?
The predictable results
After this buyback program, violent crime rates spiked over the following months. Unwilling to let abject failure and clear-cut reality get in their way, certain politicians continued to advocate for gun buyback programs.
More firearm buyback programs were initiated. Large, metropolitan cityscapes (where the vast majority of firearm-related violence occurs) attempted this failed experiment, over and over, trying to achieve the desired results.
Authorities from New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Camden and more pushed to remove firearms from their streets. Critics pointed out that most of the firearms turned in were old and of poor quality, generally not having been discharged in years. Proponents said that criminals will often steal the firearms of a home they break into, so not having those firearms available to be stolen was a sort of quasi-victory.
To date, no gun buyback program has successfully reduced crime with any sort of statistical relevance. Reducing gun violence by .0001% is not a victory – certainly not when considering the cost of purchasing and destroying the guns is at the taxpayer’s expense.
Why do Gun Buyback Programs fail?
New firearms are manufactured every year in every state. In 2018, over nine million new firearms were produced. The total number of guns in American homes is unknown, but even the most optimistic gun-restriction advocates estimate that any given buyback program will net 1-2% of all the firearms in a locality.
In other words, for every two guns turned over to law enforcement, 98 new ones are manufactured and sold.
Another reason for gun buyback program failures is that guns don’t actually kill people. People kill people. If you remove firearms from a homicidal maniac’s hands, he’ll find another way to inflict violence. Explosives, knives, rocks or even a folding chair can be lethal in the wrong hands.
Guns are merely tools, no more effective or potent than their user’s abilities and intentions.
Perhaps the most obvious reason gun buybacks fail is because criminals don’t turn in their weapons. They need those weapons to commit future crimes. According to the authors of a Milwaukee-based gun violence research study, “Handguns recovered in buyback programs are not the types most commonly linked to firearm homicides and suicides.”
It’s like they’re fishing for trophy bass but keep reeling in kelp.
Because…How can the government ‘buy back’ something they never owned or sold in the first place?
The Illusion of Security
Overfed, frightened American politicians are great at fixing nonexistent problems. Whether the TSA is frisking grandma for the 11th time at the gate, or they’re drowning empty classrooms in disinfectant in a show of ‘hygiene theater‘, these politicians know how to manufacture and ‘fix’ a crisis without ever being mildly productive.
Gun buyback programs are among the most heinous examples of this pseudo-work. At the end of the day, the government can’t (and won’t) protect you from anything. Cigarettes, cheeseburgers, car accidents and reckless psychos are a part of life. They may come in and ruin your life or you may never encounter them at all.
Life isn’t safe. It never was and never will be.
The government would love to be a snowplow parent to the masses, eagerly getting in front of the helpless populace and clearing away any obstacles to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But that’s not government’s role in society. Americans don’t need a hand-wringing, maternal government to protect us from the world’s realities. We know there is gun crime and we know how to address it.
More Firearms Are The Answer
In a stunning display of willful ignorance, modern politicians and city leaders continue to promote gun buybacks as viable government programs aimed towards increasing public health and safety. Paradoxically, the best answer to gun crime is to increase the number of guns in the hands of responsible, freedom-loving patriotic Americans.
Tax-paying, registered gun owners commit miniscule amounts of crime, if any at all. They aren’t committing mass shootings. In fact, they’re stopping mass shootings dead in their tracks, thanks to men like Jack Wilson. Responsible gun owners are taking out home intruders. In fact, they’re helping all the time.
The Second Amendment is Non-Negotiable
The Second Amendment to the Constitution reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Thoughtless, knee-jerk political reactions to gun crime are at the least unhelpful, and at the worst, wantonly destructive. Voluntary or mandatory, gun buyback programs don’t work. The only thing that does is for the government to get out of the way and let Americans exercise their rights!