As we’ve discussed here many times before, gun “buybacks” are utterly worthless when it comes to reducing crime, suicide, or accidents involving firearms. They only real value they have is with anti-gun politicians looking to convince voters that they’re “doing something”, and I guess by that metric this past weekend’s compensated confiscation event in Sacramento, California was a rousing success.
The Sacramento Police Department was offering up a whopping $50 gas card in exchange for “unwanted” firearms, and despite the fact that fifty bucks won’t even fill up a tank when the cheapest gas to be found in the city is still going for about $5.50 a gallon, officials say the demand couldn’t meet their supply.
The Sacramento Police Department said on Facebook that 134 people had dropped off firearms in exchange for $50 gas gift cards. The day’s collections included at least one assault weapon, components of privately manufactured “ghost guns” and “multiple other illegally configured firearms,” they said.
While the gift cards appear to have been an incentive – especially with gas prices climbing across the country – officials said they weren’t the only motivating factor.
“Among other reasons, community members most commonly cited a lack of experience or knowledge with firearms, lack of knowledge of the legality of the firearms, or an inability to safely store the firearms as the main reasons for participating in the exchange,” they wrote.
Whatever the reason, Saturday’s event – which was supposed to last for five hours – got more takers than expected. The department announced just 45 minutes into the event that it had exhausted its supply of gift cards “due to overwhelming response” and would be stopping an hour early.
It continued to accept firearms even after running out of gift cards, with officials praising the event as a success.
“I truly believe violent crime prevention is a shared responsibility and today’s overwhelming community participation is evidence of the success we can achieve together,” said Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester.
I hate to break it to Lester, but all this event demonstrated is that there are at least 134 people in Sacramento who apparently don’t realize that if they don’t want their guns anymore they could likely get more than $50 if they took them to a gun store instead of swapping them for a gas card.
The metrics most residents are looking at have far more to do with violent crime than how many guns were turned in at a “buyback,” and for the past three years those numbers have been trending in the wrong direction, with the 57 homicides in the city last year the highest since 2006. We also saw a mass shooting in downtown Sacramento earlier this month sparked by rival gangs that killed six people and left at least a dozen others with injuries. None of the three men charged to date with the shootings are legally eligible to own firearms, though that wouldn’t have stopped them from taking part in this past weekend’s “no questions asked” gun turn-in event.
Of course, the fact that they couldn’t legally possess a gun also didn’t stop them from allegedly starting a shootout outside a nightclub a few weeks ago, which gets back to the biggest problem with Sacramento’s recent gun “buyback”. I have no doubt that this event was held so that city officials could point to it and tell residents (and voters), “Look, we’re doing something.” The problem is that they’re doing something that doesn’t work, has never worked, and will never work to make Sacramento a safer place. It would be far more effective to focus on the relatively small number of violent, repeat offenders in the city than to try to make California’s capitol city gun-free, but that takes time and the efforts of police, prosecutors, and the community at large. It’s easier for anti-gun politicians to hold a compensated confiscation event instead, even if the only measurable results take the form of positive local headlines and not, say, declining violent crime rates.