Good Time for Criminals to Sell Old, Crappy Guns in Order to Buy Better Guns
There are few things as worthless as a gun buyback program. Here is the article on this weekend’s one-day exercise in giving people taxpayer money to purchase new guns. After the "tremendous" success of the 1991 St. Louis City Police Department gun buyback, as the Post-Dispatch puts it:
The 1991 cache was a huge success but it was based on a 30-day program. The 2007 effort is one day only.
We are going to do it again. It was such as success in 1991 that the City of St. Louis became one of the safest cities in America in 1992 and has remained so ever since. Oh, wait check that it has consistently been one of the murder capitals of America since right about that time. …
I got rid of an old shotgun a few months back, and now I feel like a moron. I should have held onto it and sold it to the city police for $50. That’s $50 more than I got for it.
These programs are like the forced sterilization programs in India in the 1970s. If I recall correctly from history class, the government ordered every family to have at least one male be sterilized in an effort to control population growth. Not surprisingly, a lot of 80-year-old grandpas showed up for their vasectomies. A gun buyback program is exactly the same. If someone has an old gun lying around, this is a good time to git rid of it. Check out this study for evidence. (Sorry, but I can only link to the summary. You have to pay for the whole thing.)
Economist Glen Whitman writes on this subject:
Consider the case of gun buy-back programs. These programs aim to reduce the number of guns on the streets by having authorities buy them up. Cities with gun buy-back programs tout their success by announcing the number of guns purchased. It’s possible, however, that people will bring guns to town just for the purpose of selling them?after all, if the city paid less than the market price, gun owners would sell their guns privately. The real question is not how many guns are purchased, but how many guns remain on the street. And this is setting aside the difficult question of whether reducing the number of guns actually reduces violent crime. Since criminals presumably have the greatest need for guns?their livelihoods depend on them?they are probably the least likely to sell them.
Or you can read this article, which originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune.
I know somebody who reads this is going to think to themself, "But if it just saves one life it is worth it." And, yes, that is an impossible argument to refute, and saving one life is wonderful. But you will never know whether the program saves one life you just have the data which tells you it is totally ineffective and a waste of money. But it makes people feel good and provides good PR, so if you have a crappy gun lying around and would like to get $50 toward a better one, this is your opportunity.