Gun Buyback Program Provides Seed Money for New Guns
The one-day flowering of peace and safety in St. Louis city has ended, with the city police purchasing 540 guns from its citizenry as part of a one-day gun buyback program. At least, it might have been citizens of St. Louis; it could well have been people from anywhere who had a worthless gun to unload and found a way to get $50 for it. The Post-Dispatch story is here. It would appear from the totals that they got very few, if any, assault-type weapons off the street. The budget was $20,000, with a price of $100 per assault-type weapon and $50 for handguns and shotguns. A total of 540 guns at $50 each is $27,000, so that did not leave much money for any assault weapons. And what about the guns that were bought with taxpayer dollars? From an article that originally appears in the Chicago Tribune:
The weapons turned in during buy-backs overwhelmingly are older guns, such as revolvers, which in some cases don’t even work. A Harvard study of buy-back programs in Boston in 1993 and 1994 found nearly three-quarters of the guns recovered were made before 1968. In Seattle, one-quarter of the guns collected were inoperable.
Basically, the city is doing nothing more than giving people tax money to go purchase newer, better guns. If the city is trying to become the living embodiment of Robert Heinlein’s statement that "An armed society is a polite society," than I would call the buyback program a success. Somehow, I think the city was going for something else mostly stemming from a delusional belief that this program was going to improve safety in the city.
The best thing to say about this program is that it only lasted for one day. A study I linked to in last week’s post on this subject found that long-term programs actually increase gun ownership as they lower the overall costs of gun ownership. Among the ways it would do this is by creating a floor value of $50 for any gun, no matter how low the market value, if any, for that gun. Come to think of it, if we could change all stupid government programs from permanent fixtures to one-day events, that would be real progress!