Tabarrok on Gun Buybacks
Dave Stokes has blogged about the gun buyback programs that St. Louis periodically tries. Now Cafe Hayek links to an op-ed by Alex Tabarrok (of Marginal Revolution fame) on the same topic. He explains why gun buybacks don’t deter crime or rid the streets of weapons:
Imagine that instead of guns, the Oakland police decided, for whatever strange reason, to buy back sneakers. The idea of a gun buyback is to reduce the supply of guns in Oakland. Do you think that a sneaker buyback program would reduce the number of people wearing sneakers in Oakland? Of course not.
All that would happen is that people would reach into the back of their closet and sell the police a bunch of old, tired, stinky sneakers.
Gun buybacks won’t reduce the number of guns in Oakland. In fact, buybacks may increase the number of guns in Oakland.
He goes on to explain that gun buyback program make buying new guns more attractive. Once people are done with the gun, they can get some of their money back. So they’ll be more eager to buy guns in the first place. It’s like college textbook buybacks. Students are more willing to buy textbooks if they can sell the books back to the bookstore at the end of the semester.
Just something to keep in mind the next time St. Louis tries it.