NY Gun Buyback "Success" Shows A Pile of Junk

On May 27, 2021 the New York State Attorney General was celebrating a successful gun “buyback” program in Rochester, New York on their official Facebook page. Cam Edwards previously covered this story, but I was compelled to follow-up after over five thousand comments were on the AG’s post online.

So-called gun “buybacks” hardly do anything to curb any type of violence. In fact, there is an argument that these no questions asked events are harmful, as they are a handy way for criminals to dispose of evidence. Quoted in an article, Sgt. Steve Ward of the Rochester Police Department stated the following:

Anonymity is very important. We’re not going to record any information regarding the individuals turning in the gun…

Everything about these programs is questionable, starting with calling them a “buyback”. Often stated by Second Amendment advocates, how can the government buyback something that was never their’s in the first place? I’ll revert to Cam’s nomenclature in calling buybacks what they really are, “compensated confiscations.”

In the Facebook post, the AG quips:

We collected 270 guns, including 20 assault rifles, at our gun buyback event in Rochester last night.

As gun violence continues to plague communities throughout our state, it is essential that these dangerous firearms are now off our streets and out of our homes.

Looking over the pictures provided by the AG, nothing on the table of their booty really screams out to me as “dangerous”. A few old break action revolvers, one half of a break action long gun, and other pieces of junk. At best, many of the firearms displayed could be cleaned up and hung up on the wall of a kitschy restaurant as a decoration. How’d that be for some Shenanigans? Comments on the post range in opinion and intensity, some of which include:

Now you have fewer citizens who can protect themselves from an armed attacker.

Stop blaming the guns. Start making tougher laws on criminals.

Funny I don’t see one assault weapon…

I guarantee not a single criminal turned in any gun and most of these either don’t work or were turned in by scared Leftist who think inanimate objects can be evil. You have done nothing to stop gun violence…

I did not do a close read of the over five thousand comments, however I will note I did not see one in there that saluted or applauded the AG’s efforts. Most of what could be read were congratulations on collecting a pile of junk. Others chastised the office of the AG for not enforcing the laws on the books or for not having appropriate punishments for those who are criminal offenders, citing plea bargains etc. Another thing that should always be explored is the funds appropriated for such programs. Where does the money come from? Further, can that money be better spent than being paid out to people that turn in broadline useless firearms?

From a news article we can see how much money each type of firearm could be given to participants:

Payments for the following types of guns will made by gift cards at the site:

$25 – non-working or antique firearms
$75 – rifles and shotguns
$150 – handguns
$250 – assault weapons

Compensated confiscations are not about actually seeing results. They are feel good events that are all glitz and glam. The actors involved get to have photo ops where they show they’re “doing something”. People that have firearms that they no longer want would usually be better off finding an FFL and selling them to or through them. A paper recently published questions the efficacy of these programs, and really our politicians should pay attention to statements in the authors’ conclusion (if not the study in full):

Over the last decade, over 100 U.S. cities have adopted GBPs with the hope of reducing gun crime. Using data from the 1991-2015 National Incident–Based Reporting System (NIBRS) and National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), this study is the first to comprehensively assess the impact of city GBPs on gun crime and firearm-related violence.

Our findings provide no evidence that GBPs are effective at deterring gun crime, firearm related homicides, or firearm-related suicides in the short- or long-run.

The work put in by the authors; Toshio Ferrazares, Joseph J. Sabia, and D. Mark Anderson needs to be applauded and looked at closely by both civil-rights minded persons and the anti-freedom caucus. They have done the research to prove what most Second Amendment advocates have been saying for years, these compensated confiscations have a zero net effect on violence and or crime. I’ll also bring up that the study noted an acute rise in violence in timeframes proceeding such events:

Moreover, we find some evidence of a small, short-run increase in gun crime in the two months following a GBP. This result is consistent with the notion that GBPs primarily target low-risk firearms that are more likely to deter crime than be used in the commission of a crime (Kuhn et al. 2002) and with the hypothesis that some criminals may be emboldened by their perception that victims will be less likely to defend themselves with deadly physical force (Lott 1998).

Drawing from the study’s statement, in closing, I’ll direct you to the compelling argument Cam made in his piece:

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?

Dec 04, 2021 11:30 AM ET