The idea behind buybacks may actually sound good. The thinking is that if you buy guys with no questions asked, you can perhaps take guns off the streets so that they won’t be used in crimes. It sounds fine…unless you understand the problems with such a thing.

Communities of two different sizes and in two different states are clearly unaware of these issues.

First, let’s take a look at East Point, Georgia.

The East Point Police Department and the city of East Point are hosting their annual Gun Buyback event on Oct 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the East Point Police Precinct at 3645 Marketplace Blvd, Suite 110. They are encouraging the community to turn in their guns in exchange for gift cards. There is a no questions asked policy during this event, meaning any gun will be accepted without penalty.

According to the police department, non-working guns can be exchanged for a $25 gift card; handguns can be exchanged for a $50 gift card; and rifles and shotguns can be exchanged for a $75 gift card. There is a two weapon limit per person.

Oh, wow. A $75 gift card for a $1,500 AR-15? I bet people will just be bursting down the doors to take part, won’t they?

Of course, East Point isn’t the only community trying such a thing this month. Another buyback event is being held in Cleveland, OH later this month as well.

The 2019 Cleveland Gun Buy Back will be held October 19. Residents that turn in their handguns or semi-automatic weapons will be given either a gas or food gift card worth $100 or $200.

The event will be held at Cleveland police’s third district headquarters, 4501 Chester Avenue. The program will begin at 9 a.m. Gift cards of $100 will be provided for handguns and gift cards of $200 will be provided for semi-automatic weapons.

“Thanks to Cleveland’s annual Gun Buy Back we have taken hundreds of guns off our streets,” said Mayor Frank Jackson. “This annual event helps to reduce gun violence and make Cleveland safer for everyone.”

Except, they don’t make anyone safer.

First, let’s look at who takes part in buybacks. One is the well-meaning people who have an unwanted gun and aren’t sure what to do with it. They don’t know how to go about selling it–especially since Facebook killed all gun sales on their platform–and so they figure this is still better than just putting the damn thing in the trash. They might get $100 for it that way.

I have no issue with this, really.

However, the other group that takes part in these are criminals looking to dump weapons they’ve used in crimes and don’t want to have tied to them in some way. These buybacks are all “no questions asked,” after all. They don’t care if you murdered someone with that gun. They’ll just take it and destroy an important piece of evidence that the prosecution might have needed to put a killer behind bars.

Nice.

“Oh, but that first group are the important ones anyway. By selling their guns back, they won’t be stolen,” someone might argue, and it’s a fair point…but only if you think every gun is always at risk of being stolen. Property crime rates aren’t all that high in this country, meaning that the odds of that particular home being broken into is relatively low. Even then, not everyone will steal firearms even if they do get their home broken into. Early in my gun collecting life, my home was broken into and not a single one of my firearms was touched. This despite not having a gun safe at that point in time.

So no, they’re not really doing anything to make anyone safer. They’re just making it harder to prosecute criminals and giving each other a false sense of security. Nothing more.

If they’re serious about combatting violence, maybe it’s time to recognize that firearms are just a tool criminals use and start focusing on the criminals themselves.