Nope. And I have to say it’s incredibly refreshing to read a piece from Time mag’s media moguls that shoots down Detroit’s gun buyback program with TTAGian gusto. Motown blogger Darrell Dawsey penned the polemic. Yup, the same writer we recently excoriated for suggesting that carrying a concealed weapon at the Eats, Beats and Arts Festival was a sign of paranoid delusion. This time ’round, Dawsey gets it right, at least initially . . .
Dawsey wrote this article before the Motor City po-po told the world that yesterday’s buyback program was such a success that they ran out of money. I mean Continental Management‘s money. Once the sponsor’s cash was depleted, law enforcement kept right on buying guns with taxpayer greenbacks. The Detroit Free Press:
Of the 478 people who turned in guns, about 200 received vouchers for cash, which the department expects to cover through donations from other businesses and organizations, [Sgt. Erin] Stephens said. She said she couldn’t say how much the vouchers totaled, but said they added up to thousands of dollars.
Now that’s what I call accountability! Or not. Where was I? Oh yes, Dawsey’s reasons why Detroit’s gun buyback program is political window dressing.
First off, gun buyback programs don’t do jack to stop the steady flow of illegal firearms into cities like Detroit. Sure, the police may get ahold of a few weapons, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily taking them from the people most likely to use them in crimes. And it certainly doesn’t stop those criminals from buying many more. As long as copping a gun in Detroit is as easy as buying a cheeseburger, buyback programs do little except create more room in the illegal firearms marketplace.
Secondly, criminals aren’t really into turning in their guns, at least not the guns that work well. I mean, if you just used a gun to, say, shoot a liquor store clerk or a drug rival, chances are, you’re not going to hand over incriminating evidence to the cops. Plus, to be quite frank, the average stick-up kid or drug enforcer can get a lot more than $50 out of a pistol if he’s willing to “put in work.” Even the Justice Department has said that guns obtained through buyback and turn-in programs are the least likely to have been involved in a crime, according to reports.
And even if a criminal gunman were so inclined to turn in his piece, does the DPD have any idea what the going rate is for a really good weapon on the streets? I mean, sure you may be able to buy some cheap Lorcin .380 from your local back-alley arms hustler for a few dollars, but the stuff that people might want to hold on to — say, an AK-47 assault rifle — is going to run you way more than that, even on the black market. If they’re serious about buying back the criminals’ guns, Chief Godbee and his men might want to sweeten the pot a bit.
Damn! I knew it was too good to be true. First, he plays the assault weapon card. Lions, tiger and AK-47s. OH MY! The fact that Detroit’s criminals don’t use AKs doesn’t get a look in.
Second, Dawsey resorts to the liberal’s lament: everything can be solved with more money. Your money. In fact, paying the going rate for an illegal weapon is the worst possible idea. It would create a vibrant, expanding market for illegal guns.
Even if the price offered is slightly less than the street price, the effect is still inflationary. If “real” criminals can get cash for an illegal gun without risking arrest, it’s like after tax dollars. Only WAY better.
No risk returns? There’s a good chance stolen weapons would flow in from outside the city. Maybe even the state. If the DPD ran out of money paying piss-ant money for illegal guns, imagine the torrent if they forked out real money?
Anyway, this is more familiar territory. Let the backpedaling begin!
All that said, though, I still hope the program yields positive results. I mean, even if a gun hasn’t been used in a crime, that doesn’t mean it won’t be — or that it won’t fall into the hands of a child and lead to even more horrifying results. So from that standpoint, certainly the buyback program has its merits. And if it’s integrated into a broader set of policies and programs aimed at stemming violence among young men, then that’s beautiful, too.
Wait . . . let me guess . . . we need to spend more money! This despite the fact that there’s no proof whatsoever that taxpayer-funded social programs reduce violent crime.
Yes, get the illegal guns off the streets. Spend what it takes to recover those guns, because it’s way too easy to die in Detroit. But damn it, it’s not just about “not dying.” These young men deserve a better way to live, too. And this city, this state, this country should be willing to pay whatever price necessary to make that happen.
Note to Dawsey: culture eats strategy for lunch. And doesn’t pick up the tab, either.