Utah Salt Lake gun buyback buy back
A Salt Lake City Policeman examines a gun during a buyback on Saturday, June 11, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
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By Salam Fatohi

Recently, Pew Charitable Trusts explored gun buyback programs and their ability to reduce crime. A “gun buyback program,” or GBP, is a local government program that purchases unwanted firearms. The premise that the government is purchasing “back” privately-owned firearms is nonsense because the government never owned them in the first place.

Firearm manufacturers and importers are the point of origin for the vast majority of firearms in the United States. The U.S. government doesn’t manufacture firearms and buying them back is simply feel-good marketing. Suggesting otherwise is intellectually dishonest.

This clever promotional scheme is made more problematic since the programs use taxpayer dollars to fund such initiatives. When considering the fact that GBPs began in the 1970s, the fiscal impact to tax-paying citizens over the decades is material.

Sounds Good, But…

At first glance, buying guns so they don’t end up on the street and used in the commission of a crime seems like a noble cause. However, the problem with this exercise is that the firearms purchased are largely from low-crime cities, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) study.

Gun buybacks buy backs
Courtesy National Bureau of Economic Research

The NBER research states, “Our findings provide compelling evidence that U.S. GBPs have been ineffective at deterring gun crime, firearm-related homicides, or firearm-related suicides in the short- or long-run.”

Even more troubling, the same research also found a small increase in gun-related crime after a gun buyback due to the perception that there will be less law-abiding citizens with firearms to defend themselves.

Steve Roundy drops off a weapon to Salt Lake City Police officers during a buyback for those who wanted to take their firearms out of circulation Saturday, June 11, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The data is clear that GBPs don’t prevent or reduce firearm-related crime, homicides or suicides and may, in fact, increase crime temporarily.

GBPs are a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars when unwanted firearms can be voluntarily surrendered at any time and at no cost to police. Furthermore, the firearms bought back through a GBP are not those typically used in crime and about 25 percent are not in working order.

Don’t Double Down

Pew Research also reports suggestions have been made to increase GBP financial compensation to incentivize criminals that would otherwise not participate. Knowing that the buybacks don’t prevent crime — and in some cases may even embolden criminals — it’s irresponsible to frivolously squander government funds at an even larger scale on a program that patently does not produce results.

Rev. Jerome Starling, left, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, second from left, Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes, second from right, and Miami Assistant Police Chief Jorge Colina, right, look over rifles that were turned into Miami police during a gun buyback program held at the Jordan Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Tax dollar impact aside, some GBP advocates even suggest following the “Australian model” of GBP, which refers to the late 1990s national gun confiscation conducted by force. This move would destroy the tenets of the Second Amendment for a promise of a reduction in gun crime that will never come to be.

Wasteful government spending may be in vogue now, but doubling down on the compensation for surrendered firearms knowing full well it will not reduce crime or disarm criminals is ridiculous. A better use of those taxpayer funds would be supporting and funding firearm safety courses for firearm owners. Incentivize firearm safety and proficiency with those same funds.

With over 14 million new gun owners in the past two years, it is imperative to encourage and provide firearm safety to everyone eager to learn rather than throwing money at a disproven solution that benefits no one.


Salam Fatohi is Manager, Legislative and Policy Research for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. 

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    • Some have budgetary “use or lose” funds that are parts of larger grants that these can be applied to under public safety (and other) categories. When that is not what is paying for it……..feelz? Either way wasting tax money to “properly” dispose of junk guns, home built troll experiments (love seeing it) and a few family inherited items (these people suck at all levels or are too ignorant to find a better buyer).

    • do any of those guns seen there look like criminal weapons?…of course not…but some may be stolen..thus the appeal of “no-questions-asked”….

  1. They only have these gun by back programs in Democrat cities, so what does that tell you? everything the Democrats touch they destroy

  2. Why do they have them? Because the primary ultimate goal of a gun buyback, is to disarm the civilian population. Any way possible. If it means people who don’t fear criminal assault. And don’t fear home invasion. And feel comfortable about giving up their guns. The tyrants are happy to pay them, with a “Happy Meal”, or a voucher to some retail discount store.

    • Chris,

      Kinda, but is seems more symbolic. Only folk who would never use a gun, or folk who have broken guns are going to turn them in. The people the haters want to disarm are not giving up their guns.

      just sayin’.

      • it’s largely done for PR purposes and to provide people with an easy way to dispose of unwanted guns….but its impact is minimal…

    • Remember Cash for Clunkers? They spent billions to permanently remove vehicles from the market. Many were serviceable vehicles, but that didn’t matter. Talk about wasteful. Fast forward a few years and states have laws in place to ban fuel powered vehicles. We even have the federal government talking about it. Guess what the future holds? That was the goal all along.

      • That was a handout to car manufacturers, just like all the hardware the navy dumped outside of San Francisco after WWII. They dont want it back on the market.

        • Everyone should read the linked story, then ask yourself * why did the NTSB have jurisdiction in a crash not involving a bus or common carrier
          * why were post-mortem drug/alcohol findings not published for BOTH drivers
          ( hint- CA. has no marijuana impairment levels written into it’s laws)
          *NO pickup that I am aware of has a legal 8 passenger capacity
          *vehicle data from pickup was deemed unreliable due to fire exposure
          Off topic, I know, but shit like this is how the nanny state gets a foothold.

    • gun dealers should take advantage and offer to pay more…some time that is permitted…sometimes not…but passing out flyers making people aware of their options might be a good idea…

    • …And spend lots of money, which in turn makes them feel good. Listen to them. They actually brag about it. “We’re doing great things! We passed [feel good title] bill which funds [you know, the thing]. The opposition is holding us back! They refused to vote for funding.”

      They always talk as if more money is the answer to every problem which tells you everything you need to know about them.

  3. It’s because, “wE’rE dOiNg SoMeThInG!” Even if it’s inane and foolish, it gives them warm fuzzies without requiring then to actually do anything but blow other people’s money (which apparently gives them warm fuzzies on its own by default).

    • Shwiggie,

      … it gives them warm fuzzies without requiring then to actually do anything but blow other people’s money (which apparently gives them warm fuzzies on its own by default).

      Excellent catch! I totally missed that.

  4. Alright. You tell me…is there a better way to get rid of a cheap broken gun that isn’t wanted, isn’t worth anything, and will never be used?

  5. So a gangbanger spends many hundreds of dollars on his illegal gun that he uses to protect his drug empire which brings in many thousands of dollars each day and the liberals think he will jump at the chance to turn in said gun for a $100 Walmart gift card?
    Only a lib could be this stupid.
    It’s like the current thinking that oil pumped from American wells by Americans will pollute and kill the planet but oil from Iran or Saudi Arabia that’s shipped 1000’s of miles will not.
    Again, only a liberal could believe this.

    • A YouTuber named Legally Armed America postulates it’s a method of money laundering. Steal a bunch of gats & sell ’em with no chance of prosecution. What a deal🙄 Oh and virtue signaling…

  6. It falls under the mantra of “We Need to Do Something.” Because it makes them feel good and shuts up the Whiners. Even when that “Something” does nothing to fix the problem. It has historically been the “Cry” of Liberal Democrats whatever the problem Du Jour happens to be.

  7. It’s the same tired song and dance of “The I care theater”. You know, the “It’s worth it if it saves just one life” crowd…

  8. But they allow liberals to feel good about themselves, because they are “doing something”.
    Meanwhile violent felons are released without bail, for the same reason.

  9. First glance and I see two pellet guns and a muzzle loader in the bottom of the photo from Miami. Good job getting those dangerous weapons off the streets ( rolling eyes).

  10. A better use of those taxpayer funds would be supporting and funding firearm safety courses for all. There should be 2 weeks as part of health and safety class that is required in high school. One week studying them and 1 week on cleaning, safe handling and a day at the range. Show these kids what damage a firearm(and explosives can do), how to unload the gun, how to set and what a safety is, how to store firearms and ammo safely.
    If the parents don’t like it, do not allow them to fire a weapon without approval, but the rest still is needed in our society, because sooner or later all kids get to handle a firearm.
    Teach them responsible use or at least how not to shoot their (or your eye) out.

  11. “Data Shows [fill in government program] Waste Tax Dollars, are Ineffective…So Why [does the government] Still Run Them?”

    Thanks for the laugh!

  12. The answer to this is simple. Two words: “Virtue Signal”. It has no relationship to reality, efficacy, or practicality; it’s a way for idiot Leftists to pat themselves on the back, while doing NOTHING useful – as usual.

    My only issue is with the thought processes of the people to “sell back” guns. If it’s a scumbag disposing of a “hot” weapon (“No questions asked”), their motivation is obvious. If it’s a little old lady (who’s never fired a gun in her life) is disposing of her deceased husband’s 50 year old firearm that she isn’t comfortable with, I understand that (but it’s stupid; if the firearm has any value, she could get more money for it selling it through her LGS on consignment). If it’s someone who had/found an old, rusted piece of s*** gun that has no value, they’re just taking advantage of an opportunity to use the Leftist/fascists virtue signaling against them. If it’s a scammer making cheap “homebuilt” weapons to cash in . . . if the Leftists are that stupid, take them for everything you can.

    The rest? They’re basically idiots.

    MajorStupidity, sold any guns at a “government buyback” lately?????

  13. I’ll answer the question posed in the headline. Why do cities still run gun buy backs?

    Because virtue signaling is what they would rather do than actually reduce gun violence. It’s not hard to reduce violent crime. Policing for effect works every time it’s tried. stop and frisk, shitcan DA’s who won’t prosecute, and when the assholes riot, let the cops go through them like shit through a goose. Oh, and build more prisons

  14. You cant buy back something you didnt sell.
    ” Ah , but We did give you permission to buy it. Would you like for us to quit giving you permission?”
    It’s a Constitutional Right , I dont need your permission ! ! !
    ” Bwhahahaaha”

    • Current bragging point for the “good” Republicans: “We allowed you to go to church during the pandemic.”

      Wait, you what? Say that again slowly.

  15. Cities? Hell, up here in the queens (RIP) colonies the entire country’s getting in on the act. The idiot manchild has granted his subjects an offer we can’t refuse, if they have the balls to bring push to shove. Maybe he plans to send out more of his horses with two assholes if (when) we refuse. Sure as shootin’ he won’t be first in the stack. Pile. Whatever.

  16. It should be noted that of the guns collected from such (dishonestly termed) ‘buy backs’, that many (of those collected) are claimed to be ‘illegal firearms’ by the ‘government entity’ (e.g. city, state, county) when in fact they are not ‘illegal firearms’. For example; a ‘private sale’ firearm that was legally purchased originally from a firearms dealer then a few years later ‘privately sold’ to a person who could legally buy and posses a firearm – is called an ‘illegal firearm’ in these (dishonestly termed) ‘buy backs’ if its not turned in by the original owner.

    Another problem with these (dishonestly termed) ‘buy backs’. Many are conducted by a ‘government entity’ (e.g. city, state, county) and are conducted as a ‘no questions asked anonymous’ thing. The problem with this is the fourth amendment is possibly being violated as well as firearms transfer laws:

    1. If one of the firearms happens to have been used in a crime that means it becomes evidence the second the police touch it and evidence has to be logged, and in this case means it was collected without warrant but rather via ‘coercion’ if something is offered (e.g. gift card) in exchange for the ‘anonymous’ firearm turn in.

    2. Its illegal for, say, a police department to not ‘transfer’ a firearm according to federal law from the person ‘giving’ it in exchange for ‘payment’ (of some sort, e.g. a gift card). In other words its technically a firearms sale to the ‘government entity’ (e.g. city, state, county – e.g. police) which is a public entity and not a private entity so there is no allowance for a ‘private sale’ possession by a public entity and the legal federal transfer process must be followed and that does not allow for an ‘anonymous’ turn in for ‘payment’ for a public entity as federal law requires the source of the firearm to be identified. The ‘buy back’ events are specifically set up as a ‘sales’ event by giving something of value (e.g. gift card) in exchange for the firearm.

  17. Our local PD held one a few years ago. The prize? A $50 Applebee’s gift card. Some folks were waiting outside the venue offering real money for some nice stuff being brought in and cash and guns were exchanged. The PD here said it wasn’t illegal, but they shut the event down quickly.

    Also, there’s video of the one in Houston (I think) that is supposedly “no questions asked”, but the organizers were taking photos of license plates.

    • I bought a few nice firearms outside a ‘buy back’ event. They were giving a $100.00 gift card, me and the others outside the roped off area were giving a minimum of $400.00 cash. It made the anti-gun folks there as ‘volunteer asdistants’ really angry. They got 5 guns that day, old pieces of rusted non functional junk…there were about 100 people that showed up, all of us offering cash got their firearms.

      The anti-gun showed up angry to begin with because a group of us had ‘counter advertised’ by putting up flyers next to theirs advertising the ‘buy back’. We advertised a minimum amount or more in cash. We basically turned their buy back into a gun show and the cash is why people showed up.

      They tried to get the cops to stop us. The cops told them ‘nope, its legal’

  18. For gods sake ! Buy-Back is a figure of bloody speech. Surely Even the most moronic moron must know aht Buy Back means . Why are Americans such bloody nit-pickers!

    • @Albert LJ Hall

      Its not nit picking. In the U.S. a government agency (e.g. city, county, srare, federal) has a legal and constitution and ethical requirement to be honest and accountable to the public. This is ‘intake’ of property from others, it was never owned by the ‘government entity’ thus can not be a ‘buy back’. It is legally, constitutionally, and ethically dishonest to call it a ‘buy back’.

      Of course I don’t expect you to understand this. You live in a country, the U.K. (of so you claim) where its modern day version of feudal tyranny government routinely abuses its power in relation to a true constitution we have in the U.S.

      Keep out of discussions for subjects you do not understand.


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