By Larry Keane
Gun buyback programs are back in the news in the wake of the tragic terrorist attacks in New Zealand. As we have discussed here before, the only thing these programs accomplish is to waste taxpayer money on a useless collection of old, broken or simply unwanted firearms from non-criminals.
When You Lose The New York Times
What’s new this time? Even The New York Times is acknowledging the inherent flaws in gun buybacks. It used as an example the recent Washington State buyback program for bump stock devices. According to the article, “The state had set aside $150,000 for the buyback program, which gave Washington residents a $150 voucher for each bump stock they turned in. All 1,000 vouchers were exhausted before the Monday deadline. But there are up to 500,000 bump stocks in the United States — and therein lies the problem.” The article further notes what we have said here many times: “the guns that are turned in tend to be the least likely ones to be used in violent crime.”
Wrong Role Models
New Zealand drew the wrong lessons from its neighbor Australia. There, the 1996 gun ban and buyback program only resulted in about one-third of firearms being removed from circulation. While violent crime has declined in Australia, there are more privately owned firearms in the country today than before the ban. So New Zealand will now pay at least $140 million in U.S. dollars to attempt to do the same.
Rather than repeating the same ineffective policies in the U.S. and other countries, lawmakers must look at the root causes of violent acts such as terrorist group activity, gang violence, drug cartels, and gaps in mental healthcare. Meanwhile, the firearms and ammunition industry will continue to promote real solutions for safer communities.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.