As we have said here before, gun buyback programs don’t reduce crime. Amazingly, gun control groups continue to call for these programs, and communities keep running them, despite a complete lack of evidence that they are effective.
Let’s consider what we do know. While no peer-reviewed research proves buybacks prevent or reduce violent crime, there are studies demonstrating their ineffectiveness. For example, SUNY Buffalo State researchers analyzed the impact of five gun buybacks held from 2007-2012 and found that they do not work. In a recent news article related to gun buybacks, one of the researchers, Scott W. Phillips, an associate professor of criminal justice said, “Does it work? No…Should they keep doing it? I wouldn’t bother wasting their time.”
A separate study of buybacks in Milwaukee County concluded, “Handguns recovered in buyback programs are not the types most commonly linked to firearm homicides and suicides. Although buyback programs may increase awareness of firearm violence, limited resources for firearm injury prevention may be better spent in other ways.” Hint, enforce the laws we already have on the books and arrest and incarcerate those who criminally misuse firearms.
Perhaps this is why even the anti-Second Amendment Obama Administration called buybacks ineffective in its National Institute of Justice memo and why 82 percent of law enforcement professionals rate them as ineffective in reducing violent crime.
So why are there still communities spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to collect unwanted firearms that likely never would have been used in a crime? That’s easy. It’s a nice gesture for public relations purposes. Unfortunately, buyback events can give the public a false sense that their elected officials and local law enforcement are doing something to make their communities safer. The evidence is clear, they aren’t.
Fortunately, there are programs that actually work, such as Don’t Lie for the Other Guy or Project ChildSafe; both initiatives of the firearms industry that coordinate with law enforcement to help keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and unauthorized individuals. NSSF also partners with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to build and implement public education resources for firearms retailers, shooting ranges and the firearms-owning community about suicide prevention and firearms. We would encourage community leaders and those in law enforcement to look to programs like these, with track records of success, rather than wasting time and money on symbolic gun buybacks.
Larry Keane is the National Shooting Sports Foundation Sr. VP & General Counsel.