Gun buyback events are a nice idea in theory, but in practicality, they’re less than useless.
The idea is to try and buy guns to get them off the streets so they don’t end up in criminal hands. It’s a nice sentiment, as far as that goes, but the problem is that sentiment and reality don’t always co-exist.
What really happens is that a handful of people who had guns but no clue what to do with them get paid well under market value for their firearms while criminals find they’ve got a great chance for dumping guns they’ve used to try and hurt people in such a way that it’ll never be traced back to them and pocket a little money. It’s a win/win for them.
Now, Orlando is about to hold its annual gun buyback.
Law enforcement agencies across Central Florida are hoping a push to get guns off the streets will make communities safer.
The annual Kicks For Guns event gives people a chance to turn in unwanted weapons and get a $50 gift card.
KICKS 4 GUNS: Major Rick Meli reminds the community of the importance of turning in guns that you no longer need. We are at several location throughout Orange County today. You’ll a $50 gift card when you turn in a firearm. If you don’t need it, you can donate it (like he did). pic.twitter.com/EaIq0sHVC8
— Orange County Sheriff’s Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) October 24, 2019
Last year, people turned in about 140 firearms — no questions asked — to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
The only requirement is for the gun owner to ensure the weapon is unloaded and stored in a plastic bag inside a car so a deputy or an officer can safely remove it.
The name of the event comes from a time when they used to exchange sneakers for the firearms, hence Kicks for Guns. Now, they just do a $50 gift card.
Oh, boy. With a prize like that, I’ll hurry on down to sell all my guns. **eye roll**
Historically, it looks like most of the guns they’re getting are cheap firearms that aren’t really much of a threat to anyone anyway. They’re not generally getting the kind of weapons that end up in the midst of gang warfare or anything of the sort.
Not usually, anyway.
Which is about normal for these. When we look at the firearms turned it at events like this, we occasionally find some really nice guns, but more often than not they’re hidden in and amongst a pile of trash guns, most of which may not even fire. Those that do are often so obsolete that even finding ammunition for them is a challenge all on its own.
In other words, money is being thrown at a problem over a span of decades and no one really bothers to look at whether it’s actually working.
Spoiler for ya, it’s not.
Honestly, Orlando would have done better taking those funds and throwing them toward more preventative efforts, the kind that offers a carrot-and-stick approach to gang violence, the source of much of the violence we have in this country. Hell, they’d almost be better off to use that money on almost anything else.
So why do they do this?
The answer is simple. It signals to people that they are serious about removing guns. They feed into the notion that the number of guns on the street is the problem, rather than the number of bad people on the street. In cities like Orlando, that’s what the elected officials and their constituents want to hear, so the police just parrot this back.
No one cares if it’s a waste of resources because it makes them feel good.