It’s rare to see a big city police chief do anything other than rubber stamp whatever the politicians on the City Council and in the Mayor’s office want, but San Antonio Police Chief Bill McManus is pushing back against a “gun buyback” plan proposed by several City Council members.

“I think it’s a noble idea, but in reality, they are ineffective and they just don’t work,” he said. “And that’s from my experience in conducting gun buybacks and from the research that’s out there.”

The council members and the chief have not had a formal discussion to see how the program could be different or better than other similar intiatives. No timeline was provided for program.

A pair of city council members held a news conference at police headquarters today to tout their plan, but the chief wasn’t on hand to lend his support.

“Do you have weapons in your home that you no longer need, or you’re afraid can be used for nefarious purposes or to endanger other people in your family or in your community?” Councilman John Courage said. “If you do, this is your opportunity to sell them and let us dispose of them properly.”

He says citizens will be ‘rewarded for their good citizenship.’

Do you have any books laying around that have dangerous ideas in them? Ideas that might get into the minds of impressionable young children? Come on down to Courage’s Bibliographical Bonfire and turn those paper pages into kindling for our furnace. It’s what good citizens do.

Councilwoman Ana Sandoval said this was the first effort to actually do something to reduce gun violence and to do something about gun safety in our community.

“City Council is on a path toward doing what we can to reduce gun violence and make people safer in our community,” she said.

The problem is that this doesn’t actually do anything to reduce gun violence. The chief is right; gun “buybacks”, or compensated confiscation programs as I prefer to call them, don’t reduce crime. They don’t reduce suicide. The thing that “gun buybacks” are really good for is generating headlines for the politicians who propose them. They allow council members like John Courage and Ana Sandoval to stand behind a podium and proclaim they’re “doing something”. That’s it.

If Courage and Sandoval really want to do something to make San Antonio safer, they should work with Chief McManus to target the most violent offenders in the city. The chief already has a violent crime task force in place, but the council members could work on partnering law enforcement with community programs in their wards to help steer those offenders away from gangs and into a more productive phase of their lives, and to use the full force of law to come down hard on those offenders who don’t take advantage of the opportunity to change their lives.

Instead of doing something that works, these council members are opting to simply “do something” instead. It’s a shame they seem more committed to getting media attention than getting results.