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Governments are beset by unintended consequences to the policies they adopt and the laws they pass. People tend to act in their own personal, rational self-interest…a fact most elected officials never seem to grasp at all. Many times the consequences are relatively small and benign. Sometimes they’re much more profound and problematic.

Unintended consequences generally come in four flavors; 1) unexpected benefits, 2) unexpected drawbacks, 3) perverse results (basically the opposite of what’s intended) and 4) unforeseen developments. See if you can figure out which is the most likely outcome of Dr. Jonathan Wilson’s latest brainstorm.

Wilson, who’s described as a social worker and researcher, is concerned about the city of Philadelphia’s accelerating violent crime wave. Like so many large urban areas, the City of Brotherly Love is experiencing the natural results of policies such as defunding the police, opening its jails, and failing to prosecute those accused of many offenses.

But never fear, Dr. Wilson has a solution. As he notes . . .

Typical black market prices for an automatic gun are between $800 and $1,000. The price for a revolver or a “throwaway” is between $300 and $500. At those prices, $1 million would be enough to buy at least 1,000 firearms and make a significant reduction in the roughly 300 murders this city sees annually. Philadelphia, it’s time to put our money where our mouth is and embrace data-driven decisions.

Akshully, the number of all murders in Philly last year was 499 and they’re up about 16% so far this year.

Let’s stop playing games. There were 2,200 people shot in 2020, and this year Philadelphia passed the grim mark of 10,000 people shot since 2015, with three-quarters of victims being Black males. We must think outside the box. We need to sweeten city gun buyback offers, which currently do not take in enough guns nor offer enough money for them.

So Dr. Wilson’s plan is to pay more than the black market in order to get guns off the streets. Here’s how much he wants to pay . . .

We must offer at least $1,000 for automatics and ghost guns and $500 for revolvers. Those who oppose this are not wearing their thinking caps — the cost is but a fraction of the price needed to prosecute a homicide case or to incarcerate someone convicted of homicide for the rest of their life. Moreover, there is no price comparable to one life saved.

Hmm. We took Wilson’s advice put on our thinking cap on. Once the smoke cleared, we concluded that paying that much for guns — Wilson doesn’t say who’d foot the bill, but it seems safe to assume he means taxpayers — would empty out gun store display counters at least as fast as it would take guns off of Philly’s mean streets.

Keep in mind that the average price of a new semi-automatic gun these days is somewhere between $500 and $700. Used obviously go for significantly less.

We searched the web sites of some Philadelphia area gun stores and found prices like these . . .

    • Taurus G2C $299
    • GLOCK G19 Gen5 $579
    • Used CZ P-07 $379
    • Ruger Wrangler revolver $249
    • Heritage Rough Rider revolver $170.45

If Philadelphia announces a “buyback” offering “at least $1,000 for [semi]automatics and ghost guns and $500 for revolvers” they’d better have a lot more than $1 million to spend or they’re going to turn away a lot of motivated sellers. There’d plenty of gun arbitrage profits to be made at those prices.

gun store counter

Of course, the firearms the city would be buying would not, for the most part, be the gats that are used in street crimes. Instead, they’d be guns fresh out of retailers’ new and used guns inventories. Not to mention plenty of broken or otherwise undesirable safe dwellers Philly area residents would dig up in order to cash in. And gun owners would likely use the profits to buy new guns…or top off their ammo supplies.

In short, Dr. Wilson’s big idea for reducing crime in Philly wouldn’t accomplish what he thinks it would. Instead, it would put plenty of money in the hands of opportunistic gun owners and entrepreneurs looking to cash in on a feel-good attempt to do something about “gun violence.” It would also likely clear out local retailers’ used and lower-priced gun inventories.

Again, more unintended consequences. So which of the four types would you call this?




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  1. For that kind of profit I could be convinced into a cross-country drive with a couple of friends to “turn in” scores of scary revolvers and *gasp* automatic [sic] pistols. Time to start combing the estate sales for broken, rusted, parted-out handguns.

    Dan, keep us advised as to the where, when and how much Philly is offering…

      • @JC

        Thanks..I think.

        I don’t believe that I’m a criminal…merely an elderly enterprising entrepreneur effectively embracing the exceedingly effluent [sic] City of Brotherly Love’s largess…

        • Didn’t mean to offend with my comment OGiM.
          I personally wouldn’t consider moving ANY firearms other then my own across a blue state line. And I would leave that state with every firearm I entered with.
          Blue state DAs would like NOTHING better then to string up an otherwise law abiding red state gun owner for trafficking illegal firearms into THEIR state/county/city/town.
          Gives them a platform to claim the disfunction in the region is NOT caused by their leftarded policies.

        • @JC

          You certainly did not offend me.

          My response was wholly generated by my smart azzedness escaping from where I keep it locked away (mostly) from public view.

          You are likely correct regarding a Blue state prosecutor salivating over a Red stater “illegally importing” firearms to their state…even if said firearms are slated for destruction.

  2. Too bad our resident morons, MinorIQ, dacian and enuf, didn’t show up for this one.

    “Economics. How do it work???”

    Hell, at those prices, gangbangers would be buying cheap gats on the street, and turning them in for the profits.

    Only “Progressives” could be this obliviously stupid.

  3. Idiocy. Dems often think that throwing money(my money!) at a problem is the answer and history has shown time and again that it is not. This jackass even states that the majority of the victims are black males. Instead of stupid ideas like his, why not address the underlying social issues in their community. Pretty sure that government intervention is the root cause of modern day cultural issues in the black community.

    • Dang a grand for an “automatic”!?! Need to make a road trip to the “city of brotherly luv”. Cobra,Lorcin & Hipoint prioritized😎I’d even sell my Taurus G2 for a thou…

  4. Hmm, Let’s see, to reduce crime, How about we lock people away from society, in a place called prison. Its actually cheaper to lock them up, than to deal with the cost of their crimes, both in human terms and in actual cash.

    Also, pay all the baby mommas $5,000 to get their tubes tied. Stop paying for any more than one welfare kid per family. I’m not a eugenics person, but non-productive people who can’t pay for themselves have no business having children.

    Do I win a prize, get a government grant or fellowship?

    • “I’m not a eugenics person”

      Me either. The Constitution does not delegate any branch of the government the authority to coercively enforce the advancement of the species.

      Nevertheless, like most “evils” from back in the day, it’s a hell of a lot better than today’s alternative (coercing tax dollars from the productive to subsidize the degeneration of the species).

    • Mauser6863,

      There is a far simpler solution to the problem of people producing children with no ability to care for them:

      When you have a child and do not provide the necessities of life for that child, that is a felony which most states call “child abuse” or “child neglect”. If we started prosecuting the $perm and egg donors who bring children into the world without the means to provide for them, that would curtail the irresponsible breeding that is out of control.

      It really is that simple. If you cannot or will not provide for a child, then don’t have children. Be abstinent or use c0ond0ms if you absolutely cannot control yourself.

      • Ok, a felony. That would likely mean prison time. So what to do with the kids while dad and/or mom are breaking rocks? Seems to me this cause/effect is already happening, although the felonies are of a different sort.

        I look down that road, and see a big neon sign that says “Nanny State Ahead” and I don’t want to go down there. I agree with the underlying principle of taking care of your kids, but there’s gotta be a better way than getting the gubmint involved.

        • hawkeye,

          THE quintessential role of government is to punish evil-doers. People who bring children into the world with no ability to feed them are evil-doers given how readily available abstinence and c0nd0ms are.

    • Lots of programs have restrictions, like stay in school, must pass drug tests, hold a job, go to job interviews, etc. It would be legal to require sterilization or birth control implants to receive welfare. It’s just not politically possible. Besides disproportionately affecting minorities, it also disproportionately affects women. The sperm donor got what he wanted and has moved on to his next baby mama. He has no repercussions and no incentive to participate in a sterilization.

  5. And these are the f’ing idiots who are running the Country now…Mr Social Worker genius just doesn’t get that when a society keeps bribing people to do the right thing, the price for doing the right thing will keep rising. Not to mention that it is a morally repulsive thing to do.

    In the short term, what’s going to reduce crime is for Mr Social Worker to stop treating criminals like they’re the victims and to stop blaming “society” for the criminal acts of this class of feral scum. Jail them. No plea bargains. No probation. And if they continue to act criminally after they’re released, incarcerate them for fife if you have to. The only way this crime surge is going to stop is when it becomes too painful and too difficult to be a criminal.

  6. Even taking his assumptions as givens, his conclusion is still idiotic – objectively, obviously, mathematically so.

    In a city of 1.6 million (in a state with decent gun laws and high ownership rates) where 300 (or even 500) were murdered, taking 1000 guns out of the mix is going to have a significant impact on crime?

  7. I’d call this opportunity! Opportunity to upgrade my collection. It certainly wouldn’t have any effect on crime, the murder rate, or the number of shootings though. Those are primarily drug and gang related and no one in either of those groups is going to give up their guns. So unless Dr. Wilson has a solution to drug and gang violence he’s just another Ivory Tower imbecile, lucky to find his way home after dark, spouting nonsense.

  8. “Typical black market prices for an automatic gun are between $800 and $1,000.”

    Wait…I can buy an automatic on the black market for $800??

  9. “We took Wilson’s advice put on our thinking cap on.”
    i’ll take i’ll that p07 $379 would yes melon.

    this guy’s on the right track. just give them all more weapons.

  10. If the point is to reduce murder I see the reduction is zero. It will give people like me and others on TTAG a nice easy side job.

  11. Leaving aside the usual “I’d buy THAT for a dollar” premise that criminals are going to turn in their guns, his entire plan seems to hinge on the false notion that there is a finite and fixed amount of firearms in Philadelphia (or anywhere else). It doesn’t work that way, my dude.

  12. … ProgWorld announces it’s fall festival – Free Unicorn rides !! Free sunshine -scented glitter shirts !! And – – – wait for it – – – , we will PAY you up to $1000 to dilspose of your unwanted murder evidence, – no questions asked !! Register to win a gender- reassignment package of your choosing, hell, you can even mix’n’match if you want to. Brought to you courtesy of the American Tax Payer.

  13. After Dr. Wilson reads this article he will put on his thinking cap again and will return with an even better idea:

    Each gun seller must have a notarized affidavit stating that they intend to commit murder with the buyback gun.

  14. A local gunsmith has a rack full of project, need repair guns for cheap. Mostly junk they got for trade ins and parts. Broken springs, botched home repairs, etc. All fixable, but not worth the cost to the shop. Most run about 2 bills each. Let me know when the $1000.00 buy back is due. I’ll happily buy everything she has in the junk pile and make the trip to Philly. Then use the profits to buy some ammo and the couple of guns I just can’t justify the cost of now.
    Of course, I’ll have to share some of the profits with my spouse, but that’s not a problem. Momma will get that pink pistol she wants.

  15. He wants to pay $1,000 for “ghost guns” that you can make for $10 in parts? I read an article online last week from a guy who showed off pictures of the “ghost gun” he made for $10 in parts from a hardware store and one half hour of his time. He said he could have built it even cheaper if he got parts from a junkyard. Sure, it was just a single-shot 12-gauge shotgun (basically a pipe with some grip tape around it, and a nail for a firing pin), but it’s a fully functional gun, and a “ghost gun”, so he could make those guns for $10 each in half an hour and sell them “back” in “buy-backs” for $1,000, that’s $990 profit for half an hour’s work, or $1,980 per hour, pretty damn good pay!

    I don’t know why antiguntards think “ghost guns” are somehow extra-super dangerous, when the opposite is true. Compared to professionally manufactured guns, homemade “ghost guns” (like the pipe-shotgun I just described) are actually LESS dangerous to the public (but more dangerous to the shooter, as they’re more likely to blow up and injure the shooter).

  16. “Governments are beset by unintended consequences to the policies they adopt and the laws they pass.”

    Uh, no. It’s more along the lines of: governments adopt policies and laws for their own benefit under some other guise which is allegedly for the public good.

    “People tend to act in their own personal, rational self-interest…a fact most elected officials never seem to grasp at all.”

    Oh, elected officials understand that full well. They are simply acting in their own self-interest. And since their own self-interest includes greed as well as being reelected, they adopt policies and pass laws which appear to be in the public interest (to ensure their reelection) while increasing their wealth and power.

    • People tend to act in their own personal self-interest, but not always in their rational (taking responsibility for their own needs and wants) self-interest.

      1. People who believe their self-interest entitles them to the product of others’ labor + “nice” people who want to “help” them will ALWAYS outnumber the rational and responsible.

      2. Entitled and irresponsible people, plus their “nice” helpers, will always vote for the politician who offers responsible people’s money to insulate them from the consequences of their irresponsible decisions.

      3. The party that believes in subsidizing the consequences of irresponsible decisions will always want more control over decisions.

      4. In a dumbocracy, even the party that professes belief in personal liberty based on personal responsibility will always have politicians who have to compromise that position for any chance of getting elected.

  17. This is an OUTSTANDING IDEA!!!

    I’d be delighted to sell all my guns to them under this plan!

    Not my first couple of guns from when I was a boy, those old .22’s are priceless to me 🙂

    But all the other boomsticks!

    Oh HELL YES!

    With them paying more than double for my AR’s and my shotguns and my high capacity “terror pistols” I can buy newer higher-end boomsticks, more ammo, maybe set aside a nice down-payment on a new 4×4!

    In fact, I’d even go so far as painting on pictures of Caspar the Friendly Ghost if that gets me a bonus for bringing in a Ghost Gun!


  18. How many of the people shot in said city were shot with the same gun? That in itself would prove or disprove his point about how much street guns were worth. If there is a limited amount of illegal guns on the street, that might work. But the truth is there are many more firearms in the hands of street gangs than he says.

  19. I have a far better solution to the violence problem and one that is far more practical. First, get rid of all the Blue city Mayors where gun violence has escalated and replace them with a progun, prolaw enforcement Mayor. Second, refund any of the police departments that have been defunded and bring them back up to full strength. Third, invoke common sense generally accepted escalation of force policies that would provide as needed the ability of a police officer to use his firearm any time they are attacked by someone using a potentially life threatening weapon ie: firearm, knife, thrown rocks, bottles, or explosives, clubs of any kind, etc. Fourth, rioters shot on sight. Fifth, anyone arrested must be investigate and if a law has been broken they go to trial with no automatic releases until proven not guilty. Sixth, anyone passing a background check is automatically approved to purchase a firearm and anyone lying on the application is arrested and indicted with the current jail and fine penalties if guilty. In essence enforce the laws we currently have, the standard police procedures we have had, the normal funding we have had, and let the 2nd Amendment be interpreted as stated. Last, close our borders to illegals and remove those who are here from the Country. I think that would do the trick in reducing the crime rate.

  20. Let’s look at the economics of this. Why does a black market gun have a cost of $1000? Because there is a market for it, which leads to why somebody would pay $1000 for a gun. They will pay because it has at least that much value to them. It can be an investment where they will recoup the money by using the gun for robberies or protection during illegal sales. It may be used to protect something more valuable than $1000, such as their lives. Most criminals aren’t the brightest, but they’re usually somewhat rational if they aren’t drug addled. The gun is part of their livelihood. If you needed to commute to work, you wouldn’t sell your car for a slight profit if there were no alternative transportation and you couldn’t get a replacement car. You would if you were getting out of commuting because you got a closer job, moved closer to work, could telecommute, retired, etc, but a small profit wouldn’t necessarily drive a life change.
    Paying more for “buybacks” doesn’t reduce crime. It pays hobbyists for gaming the system (0% drop in crime). It incentivizes criminals to get rid of guns with “bodies” or upgrade to a better black market gun (0% drop, possible increase). It makes black market guns more expensive because of increased demand, but not limited supply, so the same number of guns are on the street. In fact, it may lead to more gun store/pawn shop robberies because there are higher profits.

  21. $1,000 for an automatic? Buy a bunch of Cobra CA380s for $100 or so and turn them all in for $900 profit on each. Two of them would more than pay for the Uberti Schofleld and 1861 Colt Navy replicas I want.

    Watch burglaries of homes and gun stores skyrocket. I expect Wilson sees no difference between a gun possessed illegally by a criminal and one owned legally by a private citizen or dealer who jumped through all the hoops to get it.

  22. We have a major crime problem with young black criminally inclined men. And when they kill they are killing each other at a higher rate than they kill anyone else. Ergo if we let them continue they will eventually eliminate themselves thereby solving our young black criminally inclined men crime problem.

    Why would we interrupt this process?

    NB: For the s l o w kids, this DOES NOT apply to all blacks or all black men, only those specifically engaging in violent crime and murder.

  23. When this idea has been practiced with predatory animals, paying a bounty for each dead animal, it was not uncommon to find that people began raising the animal under bounty. If it was rattlesnakes they raised rattlesnakes and brought in a bag of shakes every so often. If rabbits, they brought in rabbits raised in their rabbit hutches out back. It didn’t work. If they raise the rates for gun buy backs, people will start buying guns at lower prices from outside the area, they may even travel a couple states away to get them, and then sell them to the buy back program. Meanwhile, the criminals and gangs will hang onto their guns and the violence will continue.

  24. Mr. Thinking Cap obviously doesn’t wear it very often or he’d know that people intent on killing each other will just use the most convenient tool at hand. Let’s say all the guns in city disappeared. *poof*, they’re gone. Did any one one if those murdering criminals suddenly turn into good people? Nope, not a single one. What happens after that? Those same bad people get right back to killing each other with knives, machetes, cars, screwdrivers, poison, bombs, bats and whatever else they can find. The only thing it accomplished was taking away the best means the good people have for defending themselves.

    Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.


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