Santa Rosa's buyback not the "big win" organizers claim

Santa Rosa's buyback not the "big win" organizers claim
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Santa Rosa, California isn’t some mega-metropolis, but it’s not exactly a fly-spec on the map, either. With over 175,000 people, it’s big enough that I have no doubt the city is having an issue with violent crime.

As per usual, particularly in the Golden State, when there’s a problem with violent crime, someone is going to blame the guns.

And for Santa Rosa, that means hosting its very first gun buyback event.

In the North Bay, a gun buyback event in Santa Rosa saw a big turnout Saturday, as hundreds of people swapped their firearms for cash.

Santa Rosa’s first ever gun buyback event drew more than a crowd; it was a traffic jam.

Cars stretched more than a mile down Fulton Road.

“I think it’s amazing. It surprises me so many are getting rid of guns,” said Sandy Sewell.

Despite the obvious popularity here, some research studies have questioned how effective buybacks are at stopping crime.

The National Bureau of Economic Research said, “Using data from the National Incident based reporting system, we find no evidence that GBP’S reduce gun crime.”

“At the end of the day, we’re not saying it’s going to reduce all the crime in Santa Rosa, but we do say the program may make that one difference for that one act of violence. For me, that’s a big win,” [Santa Rosa Police Chief John] Cregan said.

Now, they pulled in 423 guns before they started turning people away. They paid $200 for handguns and rifles while “automatics” and “ghost guns” got $300.

If no one got $300 for a gun, they still paid out more than $84,000 for guns in a program that studies have shown simply doesn’t work, and Cregan is pulling the “if it saves one life” nonsense?

That’s a cop-out and everyone knows it.

There’s no evidence it’ll make a difference in any act of violence. There’s no hint that it will. After all, in this report, they talk to people selling guns and they’re exactly the kind of people you expect to sell them at a buyback. They’re non-gun people who just want to get rid of some family heirlooms because the media told them guns were bad.

Sure, some of the others might be criminals looking to dump weapons or something of that sort, but for the most part, the bad guys keep their guns. Even if one sells a weapon, you better believe they’re still going to have a way to get a gun.

In other words, Santa Rosa spent more than $84,000 on the vague hope that maybe, some single act of violence might be averted somehow.

And then Cregan has the cajones to sit there and call this a big win?

The only “win” here is that he gets to look like he’s doing something about violent crime without having to, you know, actually do anything about violent crime. The big win is probably just him protecting his paycheck.

Look, the study mentioned in the above-linked quote is legit. It’s also not the only study showing buybacks don’t work. In fact, it’s hilarious watching people try to defend them. While I take issue with how Cregan is framing this, he’s hardly the most egregious in their nonsense defense of buybacks.

That doesn’t give him a pass for justifying such an expenditure with little more than a vague hope that it will do something.

That money could well have been put to better use in a number of ways, ways that might actually make a difference.

But those aren’t as flashy as buybacks, so they’re never even discussed.