Proposed Gun "Buyback" A Waste Of Time And Money

An anti-gun activist in the Niagara Falls area of New York has come up with an extraordinarily awful idea to try to reduce violent crime in her community, and she’s hoping to get the community itself to subsidize it. There’s nothing wrong with Jill Shaw’s desire to see a reduction in the growing violence in Niagara Falls, where homicides are up a staggering 300% compared to 2019. The problem is that Shaw’s proposed solution is nothing more than a waste of time and money.

Shaw has been front and center this summer protesting outside a so-called crime house called the “Red House” where one man died earlier this month.

Now, she’s on another mission to get guns off the streets.

Shaw is trying to raise enough money through donations and a Go Fund Me account to be able to give any person who turns in a gun $500 cash, no questions asked. The gun buy back will be financially supported by the community—those who want to take a stand.

“I’m hoping it will be successful,” she said.

Even if she successfully manages to raise enough money to move forward with the compensated confiscation event, it won’t be successful in stemming the violence. There’s virtually no evidence that the so-called buybacks have any impact on crime rates, but they’re still fairly popular with anti-gun politicians and activists like Shaw because they enable them to say they did “something.”

Typical gun buy-backs are supported by the governments, both local and federal. Shaw says those typically don’t provide enough of an incentive to trade in a gun. She’s hoping the $500 will be incentive enough to bring a gun and trade it in.

But she says they can’t do this without your help.

“We have to make it big so we get a big result,” she said.

$500 a gun might result in more guns being turned in, but it won’t change the types of guns that are handed over, nor is it likely to change who turns in a gun in exchange for cash. Compensated confiscation events tend to attract people who have guns in their home that may have belonged to a spouse who’s passed away, people looking to unload “garbage guns” that aren’t worth much money and may not even be operable, and even gun owners who turn in inexpensive guns and use the cash to go purchase another firearm.

That’s why most cities have turned away from compensated confiscations. As Kelly King, a spokeswoman for the Newport News, Virginia police department put it when elaborating on why the city won’t be holding any “buybacks” in the future, the events led to guns being turned in, but it had no impact on the crime rate.

She said the purchased guns were not traceable back to a crime and were often just old or broken. The buybacks yielded few, if any, assault weapons and only a few long guns, she said.

Getting guns off the street is a top priority for the police department, King said, but no wide-sweeping options exist to bring in hundreds of illegal guns at once. Police officers doing their daily work gradually bring in these weapons, however.

I applaud Jill Shaw’s desire to make Niagara Falls a safer place, but that doesn’t mean people should donate any money to her compensated confiscation efforts. For the moment anyway, it looks like many residents agree with me. Shaw’s GoFundMe hasn’t even raised enough money to collect a single firearm, and hopefully she’ll soon turn her attention to more productive means of violence intervention rather than waste her time on such an ineffective endeavor.