Acting NJ Attorney General Acting Like Gun "Buybacks" Actually Work

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

There’s not a single study, even from the most ardent gun control supporter, that’s shown that gun “buybacks” do anything to reduce violent crime, suicides, or accidents involving firearms. In fact, at least one study has actually shown the opposite; a short-term increase in firearm-involved robberies, drug violations, vandalism, and kidnapping. The study’s authors say they found “compelling evidence that prior U.S. city GBPs [Gun Buyback Programs] have been ineffective at deterring gun violence and have been an inefficient use of taxpayers’ dollars.”

Despite that, anti-gun politicians still love a good compensated confiscation program. Not for the public safety benefits, but for their own public relations.

If gun “buybacks” are a crucial piece of New Jersey’s crime fighting strategy, I feel bad for the good folks in the state’s worst neighborhoods, because this isn’t going to do a damn thing to make their lives any better or their streets any safer.

“Any one of these weapons, had they fallen into the wrong hands, could have resulted in a death or an injury,” said Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck at the National Guard Armory in Lawrenceville Thursday morning, where several tables displayed the hundreds of guns turned in. Those weapons will now be destroyed.

“They could have been found by a 6-year-old going through her parents’ attic. It could have been found by a family member who is experiencing suicidal thoughts or a mental health crisis. It could have been found by someone who is burglarizing a home looking for a weapon,” Bruck said.

Gun buybacks — and the photo-ops they yield of tables piled high with weapons — are a frequent tool used by law enforcement and public officials, despite limited evidence that the tactic prevents shootings.

… David Kennedy, criminal justice professor and executive director of the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College, said buybacks “essentially” have no crime control value.

Bruck said the buybacks are part of a “broader, comprehensive” strategy to reduce gun violence in New Jersey. He announced another buyback event to be held Saturday, Oct. 23 in seven counties across the state: Bergen, Camden, Cumberland, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Somerset.

There’s an anti-gun mindset inherent in the idea of a compensated confiscation event; that even if there’s no evidence these programs reduce crime, suicides, or accidents they must be of some value because they’re removing guns from society.

There are two big flaws with that argument. First, the guns that are typically turned in during a compensated confiscation event are what are commonly called garbage guns; old, often inoperable and unwanted firearms that aren’t being used in crimes in the first place. Beyond that, there’s the simple fact that while Bruck and his anti-gun allies were posing for pictures with the 941 guns they collected, New Jersey residents were buying many more.

… according to the FBI, there were 135,591 firearms background checks in New Jersey from January through June. In 2020, there were 60,114 background checks performed during the same time period, and in 2019, there were 45,406.

I’m no math whiz, but according to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, that translates into roughly 740 guns sold per day in New Jersey between January and June of this year. No amount of compensated confiscation events could ever keep up with the number of new firearms coming into the hands of New Jersey residents, but that doesn’t really matter to the people hosting these events.

It’s time for New Jersey’s acting Attorney General to quit acting like these buybacks do anything of substance. They’re simply a soundbite solution to violent crime, and the only folks really benefiting are anti-gun politicians and a few folks who found a way to get a couple of bucks for a gun they no longer wanted; money that in many cases will likely go toward the purchase of a new gun or some ammo.

Oct 21, 2021 6:30 PM ET