Gun “buybacks” happen because a city wants to reduce the number of guns in circulation. This is usually because they believe that fewer guns “on the street” will result in fewer cases of so-called gun violence in their communities. It’s not difficult to follow the thinking, either. Especially if you believe the violence is spurred on due to economic concerns. Giving someone money for their gun might encourage them to stop acting like a criminal.
That seems to be the general line of thinking taking place in Long Beach, California. They’re looking to have a gun buyback to reduce violent crime.
Long Beach police will offer gift cards worth between $50 to $200 in exchange for each firearm turned in during a gun buyback event Saturday, Oct. 2, as part of a broader effort to tackle rising violence in the community.
People will be able to exchange handguns, rifles and shotguns for a $100 card, or assault rifles for a $200 card, police said in a news release. Broken guns get a $50 card.
The event will take place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday at Veterans Park, 101 E. 28th St.
Participants are asked to drive to the event with their weapons unloaded and secured in their trunks, police said. They should stay in their vehicles as officers collect their firearms.
“Through hosting this event and providing incentive for our community members to surrender their firearms, the Department will eliminate the chance of these firearms being stolen, ending up in the hands of prohibited possessors, and being used unlawfully,” LBPD officials said in the release.
Alright, I’ll give them credit for not pretending it’ll take guns directly out of criminal hands. At least they’re not that delusional.
There’s only one problem with this approach: It doesn’t work.
No, seriously, they’ve done studies and found that gun buybacks simply don’t work to reduce violent crime. Sorry, Charlie, but that’s just not going to have much of an impact.
See, first, there’s the fact that many of the guns being sold are old, barely functional firearms. If you’re offering $100 for a gun, even if you get 100 of them, you’re still only getting a minute fraction of the firearms out there. The odds of you getting a gun that was fated to be stolen otherwise is…well, let’s just say there’s a better chance of Kate Beckinsale asking me out and my wife being completely OK with me saying yes than there is of that happening.
Second, criminals already have plenty of guns in circulation. They’re already armed and those guns are being bought and sold back and forth all the time. Those guns aren’t being taken off the streets of anywhere.
All a buyback does is allow Long Beach officials to pat themselves on the back and pretend they’re addressing the problem without having to actually address the problem.
Politicians like those solutions. So do police chiefs who are clueless about what else to do in an era where police brutality is a label applied to pretty much everything a police officer does.
However, no one should expect it to make a damn bit of difference in violent crime in Long Beach, now or years in the future.