New York AG Spins Gun "Buyback" As Huge Success

(Holly Pickett/The New York Times via AP, Pool, File)

New York Attorney General Letitia James’s hostility towards the Second Amendment is well known to gun owners by now. Besides her attempt to shut down the National Rifle Association over alleged financial misdeeds by the organization’s leadership (which would punish the millions of NRA members far more than any of the group’s top brass), James has vocally supported the passage of gun control laws in the state and is representing New York in a lawsuit challenging the state’s restrictive concealed carry laws that will be heard by the Supreme Court this fall.

James is also a big fan of gun “buybacks,” even though there’s absolutely no evidence that the turn-in events do anything to reduce shootings, suicides, or accidents involving firearms. Most recently, James and her office conducted a gun turn-in event in Rochester, New York, and the AG is bragging about taking nearly 300 guns “off the streets.”

“With gun violence continuing to plague our communities, it is essential that these dangerous firearms are now off our streets and out of our homes,” said Attorney General James. “Our gun buyback and its ‘no questions asked’ approach are critical components in our efforts to keep these weapons from falling into the wrong hands and ensuring that New Yorkers are safe and protected. My office remains committed to protecting communities from potential gun tragedies, and I thank our partners for their continued work to support this vital program.”

Like every other “buyback” (I actually prefer the more accurate term “compensated confiscation”), the vast majority of the guns turned over to police look to be what are colloquially known as “garbage guns”; rusted out revolvers, single barrel shotguns, and ancient hunting rifles, along with a handful of more modern firearms. James herself is touting the twenty “assault weapons” that were handed in, though she neglected to mention if any of them came from the home of Rochester mayor Lovely Warren, whose husband was recently arrested on drug and firearm charges, including possession of at least two firearms despite a felony conviction for robbery in his past.

Well, if Letitia James wants to brag on the success of the Rochester “buyback,” let’s see what happens to the crime rate next month. If gun control champions like the New York AG are right, then a compensated confiscation event that took in 270 firearms should lead to some reduction in violent crime in Rochester over the next few weeks, right?

According to the Rochester Police Department’s Open Data Portal, there’ve been 38 shootings between May 1st and May 25th. I’m going to be keeping an eye on the stats for the rest of the month, as well as all of the shootings over the month of June, and we’ll report back in a few weeks with the results.

My guess is that the compensated confiscation event organized by the Attorney General’s office isn’t going have any impact whatsoever on the crime rate. In fact, a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research that looked at more than 100 such events in cities around the country found “no evidence that GBPs [Gun Buyback Programs] reduce gun crime.” The researchers conducting the study also found that the programs don’t reduce suicide or firearm-related homicides.

The biggest benefit of these compensated confiscation events is for the politicians like James who host them. They get to issue a press release touting their success in taking guns “off the street,” while ignoring the fact that criminals are keeping their own illicitly-obtained firearms for themselves. Well, we’re not going to ignore what’s happening in Rochester, and I’m looking forward to sharing the results of our own little study in a month or so.