New Data: “Buybacks” Futile and Foolish Waste of Tax Dollars

Gun Lock Control NRA-ILA
Gun control is still a waste of money and time. IMG NRA-ILA

U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- In the run-up to the 2020 election, most of the Democratic candidates were united in pushing for a national “gun buyback” program. Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted, “The federal government must ban assault weapons and implement a buyback program to get assault weapons off the streets.” Candidate and now Vice President Kamala Harris campaigned on a promise to impose a “mandatory gun buyback program,” as did Joe Biden (“Biden will also institute a program to buy back weapons of war currently on our streets”).

At the same time, U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) and other Democrats introduced H.R. 1279, the Safer Neighborhoods Gun Buyback Act of 2019. The bill would authorize a $360 million per year program run by the federal Department of Justice, to make grants to state and local governments for conducting “buybacks.” Rep. Payne described it as a “proactive bill that will help end violence by getting guns off the streets. Gun buyback bills have been popular law enforcement and public safety tools across the country, but the money just hasn’t been there for a widespread program.”

His 2019 proposal follows previous unsuccessful bills on the same topic in 2017 and 2015; a 2013 version was remarkable only by being awarded “The Most Expensive Bill of the Week” by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. (One factor may have been the bill’s mandatory ten percent set-aside of the funding for recycling the guns – not for teaching safe firearm handling at youth shooting classes or use by law enforcement agencies, but to turn the guns into “energy-efficient washing machines, car parts, energy-efficient refrigerators, or other steel parts such as railroad or metro tracks.”)

The NRA’s position was that this “poorly named measure has nothing to do with ‘safer neighborhoods,’ nor is it a “buyback,” because the government has never owned the firearms that are the object of the program.

A working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research this month titled, Have U.S. Gun Buyback Programs Misfired?, confirms that these programs have no positive impact on public safety.

The three researchers, from the University of California, Santa Barbara; San Diego State University; and Montana State University, used crime data from the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System as well as mortality information collected by the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System for the period starting in 1991 and running until 2015. They also looked at 339 “gun buyback programs” (“GBPs”) held in 277 cities (110 counties) across the country during the same timeframe (and listed at Table 2 of the paper). For the purposes of their research, a “gun buyback program” was defined as “an event where gun owners could legally sell their firearms to their local law enforcement agencies, after which the firearms were destroyed.”

While the paper has not been peer-reviewed, their findings may be summarized as:

There is “no evidence” that gun buyback programs reduced firearm-related suicides and homicides in the years following a buyback.

The evidence with respect to gun crime showed a small decrease in gun crime (1.3 percent) in the 12 months following a gun buyback; however, in the two months following a buyback event, the researchers found a small increase in gun crimes with no corresponding change in non-gun crimes. Overall, there was “no evidence” that buybacks “significantly reduced violent or non-violent crime in either the short-run or longer-run. Rather, holding a buyback was “associated with short-run increases” in firearm-involved robberies, weapons law violations, drug violations, vandalism, and kidnapping.

The researchers conclude that their findings “provide compelling evidence that prior U.S. city GBPs have been ineffective at deterring gun violence and have been an inefficient use of taxpayers’ dollars.”

This is not the only research establishing that these programs have a negligible effect on crime. As far back as 1994, a study focusing on the effects of a 1992 buyback program in Seattle, WA, determined that “comparing firearm-related events per month before and after the program, crimes and deaths increased, and injuries decreased, but the changes were not statistically significant.” The program “failed to reduce significantly the frequency of firearm injuries, deaths, or crimes.” Even The Trace, the Michael Bloomberg-funded anti-gun website, admits that “Gun buybacks have been used in the United States for the last 50 years, but many studies have shown them to be ineffective.”

Regardless, feckless politicians and gun control advocates persist in promoting such programs and the related outlay of public funds. In April, Esquire magazine opined that “we should put VOLUNTARY gun buyback programs at the center of our collective response to this incessant violence. These programs exist already, but they should be more prominent” (emphasis in original). U.S. Rep. Theodore E. Deutch (D-FL) co-sponsored H.R.3143, a bill to “establish a gun buyback grant program,” on May 12, the same day that Rep. Payne proposed (again) a bill on his buyback grant program, H.R. 3159.

At best, these programs compensate honest gun owners for getting broken old clunkers of guns out of the house; at worse, they are a prime example of the way gun-control charlatans fritter away other peoples’ money on crackpot “violence prevention” schemes. An editorial in the Baltimore Sun was right on the money when it described that city’s buyback event as a “large waste of time, money and resources.” Instead of being “a crime-fighting tool,” the buyback strategy “turns out to be more of a photo op and marketing stunt meant to send the message to residents fed up with violence that the cops are throwing everything they can at the problem.”


About NRA-ILA:

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess, and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit: www.nra.org

National Rifle Association Institute For Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)

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Not A. Potato
Not A. Potato
1 month ago

$1000 a day in front of a computer?

I ain’t young and pretty enough to pull that off. And my webcam is crap.

BillyBobTexas
BillyBobTexas
1 month ago

VOLUNTARY buybacks? YES, I’m all for them. Getting guns off the street from those that don’t want them, don’t know how to use them, and will be less out there to be stolen and used by the badguys. Yes, Buy as many up VOLUNTARILY as you can. Will be safer for those of us on this side..

Not A. Potato
Not A. Potato
1 month ago
Reply to  BillyBobTexas

I’d like to see law abiding citizens who want them to have first crack at buying them afterwards. Or auction them off to law abiding us citizens at fair market price and let the proceeds be used for a good cause.

Too many stories of people unknowingly turning in grandpa’s mint condition WWII surplus colt 1911 or side by side sixteen gauge to be destroyed.

MarkE
MarkE
1 month ago

No actual numbers here to calculate cost. So…if reasonable estimates put the number of AR15s in the country at slightly under 20 million, and 250 million “high cap” mags (with 100 million of those 30-round AR), then what is the total cost? If median value of the AR is used at $800 (which is often proposed for the buyback), then $15 billion is in the ballpark for the weapons. If a rough guess of $10 is used for buyback of a high-cap mag, then tack on another $2.5 billion for mags. So, combined, let’s say $20 billion total (inflation, government… Read more »

Cruiser
Cruiser
1 month ago

I wish they would advertise these “gun buy backs” better, I’m always looking for a good deal on a quality firearm.

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
1 month ago

Dear NRAHQ. I own an AR15, not a weapon of war. You are supposed to be a leader in the fight against disarmament. I suggest when quoting someone that calls it a weapon of war that you put (Americas Most Popular Sporting Rifle) in brackets just like (standard capacity) should be in brackets too. Inefficient use or fritter away use of tax payer dollars should have (theft of tax payer dollars to purchase products they never owned on a program that is a “crackpot prevention scheme). Crackpot prevention schemes is more to my liking and carries a tone that I… Read more »

uncle dudley
uncle dudley
1 month ago

Elected officials find it real easy to spend other peoples money especially on stupid projects or programs and the gun buyback is one of them, if these same people think these idea’s work then they should pony up the money out of their own pockets and we know that will never happen.
The crime problem is what they need to work on while enforcing the laws already on the books.

Cruiser
Cruiser
1 month ago
Reply to  uncle dudley

Better yet, the Politicians should encourage the anti gun crowd to buy the
guns with their own money and destroy the guns themselves. If they are that committed to the cause, “Put your money where your mouth is”, talk is cheap.

Last edited 1 month ago by Cruiser