Chicago Gun Buy-Back Program a Total Failure

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the “Don’t Kill a Dream, Save a Life Gun Turn-In” program collected more than 4,000 weapons yesterday. “Police say they gathered 55 assault weapons, 660 replica weapons, more than 3,300 handguns — and two hand grenades.” The Windy City po-po paid no-questions-asked debit card cash for guns at 22 locations. The CIty of Chicago handed over $100 for each assault weapon, $75 for handguns and $10 for BB guns, air guns and replicas. Needless to say, both the police and the mainstream media are hailing the program as a major success. Fifty-five assault rifles off the streets! The money shot is conspicuously absent: how much taxpayer money did the City spend buying broken-ass guns? Yes, there is that. Only Fox News raised the red flag on that one . . .

The surrendered weapons gave a lot of support to the arguments of those critical of gun buyback programs. Some of the guns were old World War II collectibles. Other were rusty Saturday night specials, some missing pins were held together buy duct tape. There was a lot of evidence that people had dug out old guns from their basements and were trying to get $75 for removing clutter from their house. There was little evidence that gang members were turning in the assault weapons they use to spray bullets in a drive by shooting. While he was in line to hand over a weapon, Anthony Lemon said, “I think there’s more responsible people coming in here bringing guns. It’s the irresponsible people that’s out there with guns that we have to be concerned with.”

The Chicago Tribune quotes Police Superintendent Jody Weis’ defense of the program’s potential impact on violent crime: “Some of the guns collected are so deadly, they could pierce bulletproof vests.” Which guns? Pictures please? Here that? It’s the sound of a dozen journalists napping.

Let’s say that there were some felons foisting firearms on a suspecting government representative. And let’s say that the cops checked one of those weapons and discovered that it was used in the commission of a violent crime. If the person turning it in was the same person who committed the crime, they’d probably be so stupid they’d get run over on the way to the police station. But for the sake of argument, what then?

The cops can’t catch the criminal or accomplice “red-handed” with the weapon. You know; now that the cops, themselves, bought it. Law enforcement can’t use surveillance of the gun buy-back exchange to nab either. That would defeat the purpose of the gun buy-back program. Sell a weapon to us and we’ll arrest your ass.

That sort of covert op wouldn’t affect the kinds of people Fox observed turning in guns. But it would “deter” the gun owners (a.k.a. gang bangers) that the program is supposed to encourage. Pulling the rhetorical rug from under the politicians who champion the gun buy-back as proof that they’re “doing something” about gun crime.

Come to think of it, they are.

What’s the bet the City will up the cash paid for guns as the supply of inoperable guns decreases? We can’t collect less guns than last year. That would be a failure! At some point, the cops will create a not-so-black market (i.e. safe) for stolen guns. Which will increase demand for stolen guns. Which will lead to more firearm thefts. Which will increase crime. And not just any crime.

As well as the crimes that criminals commit with stolen guns, the program will increase burglary rates for people who own guns to defend themselves from the kind of people that the program is enticing to steal guns. Gun owners vs. criminals who know guns, want guns and know that their target is armed. Can you imagine a more volatile mix?

In short, the more high-quality weapons the City of Chicago buys in its highly touted program, the more the effort will increase the trade it seeks to diminish. So what does the City’s top cop have to say on this point?

Chicago’s Police Superintendent Jody Weis acknowledged that gun buy backs don’t strike at the heart of Chicago’s problems with gang violence. But Weis said the effort is a chance to prevent some shootings. “If we can get weapons taken out of the house. At least they can’t be stolen form the house. A child cannot get his hands on that gun.” He referenced a domestic murder suicide that rocked Chicago’s loop yesterday when a man in his 20’s shot a young woman then turned the gun on himself. “If you think of the incident yesterday at old Navy, you have two people there who are now dead.  They had issues they were angry, but if there wasn’t a weapon involved. If that weapon wasn’t available to them, they would probably both be alive.”

So a program sold as anti-gang is now being promoted as anti-accidental discharge and [entirely dubious] suicide prevention? I’m not buying it. You?

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