We’ve talked a lot about the staggering increase in shootings in places like New York City and Chicago quite a bit here, but those aren’t the only big cities in the grips of a crime wave. Shootings in Portland, Oregon are at the highest levels in 30 years, and in Kansas City, Missouri, there were six homicides in a 24-hour span this past weekend, putting the city on pace for its highest homicide rate in history.
Several churches across the city are engaged in efforts to get through a single weekend without a homicide, but sadly, that hasn’t happened yet this summer. Back in early July, KSHB-TV spoke with Pastor Marvin Kirkwood of Contagious Life Church about his plan to hand out fireworks in the hopes of distracting would-be shooters with Black Cats and roman candles, but to no avail. Now Pastor Kirkwood is hoping that a “gun buyback” will lead to better results for this coming weekend.
Kirkwood and others said they’re giving people an alternative. This weekend, trade in your illegal gun for a gift card worth $200.
“The $200 gift card to either go to Target or Walmart to purchase items,” Kirkwood said, “that you don’t have to go out an rob somebody for or commit a crime for.”
On top of the gift card, you’ll get a ‘Life Card’ with a list of resources and information on conflict resolution.
“If you bring me five guns, you’ll get $200 per gun,” Kirkwood said.
He said they won’t ask for your name or personal information.
“We’re not locking people up for a gun. We’re not reporting people to the police for guns,” Kirkwood explained. “We’re giving them jobs, resources, opportunities; we’re mediating conflict; we’re helping them with food.”
I appreciate and understand that Pastor Kirkwood’s heart is in the right place, but if he really believes that this so-called “buyback” is actually going to lead to a murder-free weekend, he’s going to be bitterly disappointed. Most of the guns that are turned in during compensated confiscation programs like the one hosted by Kirkwood are “garbage guns”; old and broken down firearms that haven’t been used in a crime or for any other purpose in years. These aren’t guns that are coming off the street, in other words. More like coming down from the attic.
We’re also witnessing record high gun sales at the moment, so I imagine that any gun owner ready to sell their firearm for a $200 gift card would be willing to sell that same firearm to a private citizen for even more money. That will likely cut down on the number of firearms turned over, but that won’t be the only reason. Things are rough in Kansas City right now, with more than 120 homicides already recorded this year, and it stands to reason that plenty of good folks living in bad neighborhoods may decide to hang on to their handgun, even if they could use the money.
I believe the jobs, resources, and opportunities that Pastor Kirkwood is offering will be of far more benefit to the community than any gun buyback, and he should take the money set aside for the buyback and spend it on some of those other initiatives. The “buyback” may generate headlines, but I don’t think it’s going to save any lives. With the city’s homicide clearance rate for the year currently at just 43%, guns aren’t the problem; the fact that a majority of murderers are getting away with their crimes is the real issue, and it’s one that isn’t touched by a “buyback” of firearms, no questions asked.