Media Outlet Warps Reality to Sell Gun Buybacks

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

It seems like everywhere offers up a gun buyback as some kind of answer to the issue of violent crime. It makes a certain kind of sense, too.

No, not because it works. Numerous studies have looked at it and pretty much none have found that these kinds of things actually accomplish much of anything.


Instead, they make sense because it sounds sort of like something that should work. Buy guns so they’re not on the streets anymore? If you don’t know any better, it probably will accomplish something.

But communities across the nation have gun buybacks knowing they don’t do anything.

What’s more, some media outlets will try and misrepresent the truth in an effort to help sell them.

Over the past year, gun buyback programs have been increasingly popping up in communities across Michigan. Who benefits from these programs? And, more importantly, do they actually reduce gun violence?


LANSING—Last week, a Lansing church held the latest in a number of gun buyback events in Michigan this year, and by all measures, it was a success. St. Michael’s Episcopal took in more than 100 guns—twice as many as they collected during the same event last year.

Like events in Oakland CountyGrand RapidsFlintLudington, and other Michigan cities, the Lansing event was part of a growing trend: Community members coming together to reduce the number of guns in their communities. Here in the US, there are about 121 firearms for every 100 people—and research shows that gun buybacks, when part of a larger gun violence prevention plan, help to make communities safer. Here’s how they work:

Do these programs actually work?

When the goal of gun buyback programs is community engagement or awareness – not violent crime reduction – the programs can have some benefit. They help community members feel more empowered, and encourage locals to work with law enforcement on gun violence reduction strategies. They also perform the simple yet immediate task of getting guns out of neighborhoods—with incentives to do so.


Except, that link there? It actually has a lot of politicians saying gun buybacks are great, but the actual experts–including the author of a study looking at the efficacy of buybacks–say they don’t.

People keep making a reach to try and sell buybacks as some kind of solution, but they’re really just a waste of money. That’s money that could be used to help someone get their life back on track and away from being a criminal in the first place.

But what tickles me is how this particular news outlet has decided to present things as if these things actually work, all in hopes that there won’t be opposition to them or something. They know that most people don’t click the links. They simply assume that if they’re including a link, it means what they say they mean.

In other words, they’re hoping to spin the truth about buybacks and sell them to the people of Michigan as really useful tools instead of what they really are, nothing but a feel-good effort that accomplishes nothing. It’s a band-aid slapping on a cancer patient.


Which is fine. They’re free to do it.

I just wish they didn’t try to misrepresent their sources in order to do it.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member