Michael F. Haverluck
Dozens of cities across the United States are launching gun buyback programs in the hope that those efforts somehow will prevent the violence from people intent on injuring others.
But it’s a futile effort, say the experts.
“It would be hard to imagine a shooter like Adam Lanza not being able to obtain a weapon because of a local gun buyback program,” said Coalition to Stop Gun Violence spokesman Ladd Everitt. “It’s just not going to make a dent.”
In California, officials estimate that gun buybacks have taken nearly 10,000 weapons off the streets of Los Angeles since 2009.
But officials said in 2002, California registered 350,000 gun sales, it was 600,000 in 2011 and 817,000 last year.
Still, coupled with Barack Obama’s promise to take action against guns, mayors across the nation have been instituting buyback programs in an effort to dwindle private gun ownership ─ in the name of fighting violence.
Even though some gun buybacks were held before the Connecticut massacre, more have been launched following the Newton, Conn., shooting of 20 children and six adults.
Among the dozens of cities that have held or are planning government-run gun buybacks are Los Angeles, Seattle, Miami, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Baltimore, New Haven, Santa Fe, Jersey City, Pueblo, Ithaca, Piedmont, Calif., New Albany, Ind., and Camden, N.J. The number of guns taken? From the 27 gun buybacks since Newtown, it is reported that nearly 5,700 firearms have been collected in all.
But with an estimated 300 million guns in the United States, gun control activists might say they have their work cut out for them – unless there would be some sort of national gun confiscation.
That’s exactly what happened in Australia after a number of mass shootings in the ’80s and ’90s. Following a horrific 1996 Tasmania shooting, the government enforced a mandatory gun buyback, collecting and destroying 650,000 guns from its citizens.
Seattle officials have their event scheduled for Jan. 26.
“What we’re talking today is the unwanted gun,” said Seattle Police Deputy Chief Nick Metz while announcing the city’s first gun buyback program in 21 years. “The gun in your home, the gun in your business. Folks are scared of that gun. It’s a time bomb waiting to go off.”
But even Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said a buyback program isn’t a solution.
“It’s a tool in the toolbox,” McGinn asserted.
In Seattle, where $100,000 in contributions was collected from local companies to help pay for the buybacks, those relinquishing their handguns, rifles and shotguns will receive a $100 Amazon gift card and a $200 online shopping gift card for giving up a weapon.
“I really do hope everyone realizes they can play a role,” former Seattle mayor Norm Rice said at a news conference. “At the end of the day we want to make sure this program doubles what we did before.”
Not every city dished out the same amount for surrendered firearms, as Jersey City paid $100 for rifles and $150 for handguns and automatic weapons last weekend, claiming a total of 164 firearms. Residents of New Albany, Ind., were so anxious to get rid of their firearms a couple weeks after the Newtown calamity that the city ran out of buyback funds in 90 minutes.
In Cincinnati, individuals and groups around the area are donating funds to purchase $100 gift cards from retailers – including Wal-Mart, Target and Kroger – which will be traded for operable guns. To get residents on board with the gun control agenda, organizers sought to make giving up one’s gun a civil rights, patriotic and even religious experience, scheduling three future buyback dates on Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and Good Friday.
Recent events have seen 2,037 guns bought off the streets of Los Angeles ─ the highest amount of any post-Newtown buyback, beating out cities such as Camden (1,137), Oakland/San Francisco (600), Baltimore (461) and San Diego (364).
On the national level, Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va., wanted $200 million to be included in the fiscal cliff deal to fund gun control exchange program across the country.
But the numbers don’t support the idea that such buybacks are effective.
Not only do California gun shops sell around 2,000 on any given day, but gun sales in the state have skyrocketed of late ─ and gun-related injuries and deaths haven’t. In fact, they’ve gone down.
From 2002 to 2012, gun-related wounds treated at California hospitals dropped by 28 percent while gun sales were rising from 350,000 to 817,000 annually. And deaths from shootings dropped 15 percent.
“Places and times with the strongest gun control laws have often been places and times with high murder rates,” conservative columnist Thomas Sowell points out. “Washington, D.C., is a classic example, but just one among many.”
Switzerland, Israel, New Zealand and Finland all have high gun ownership rates, but low murder rates, officials said.